$115m scam: Fidelity Bank’s MD to remain with EFCC
EMBATTLED Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who is currently in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly receiving $115 million from former Minister of petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, may spend the next 30 days in EFCC custody.
Although, the bank denied any wrong doing in the transaction through a press release last Thursday, asserting that all its financial dealings were reported to the appropriate authorities, but the EFCC thinks otherwise.
It was gathered that the EFCC had approached a court in Lagos where it sought and got a remand order to detain Okonkwo and the bank’s Head of Operations, Martins Izuogbe for 30 days pending the conclusion of investigations.
Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, is alleged to have disbursed $115m (N23.3bn) to election officials in the 36 states of the country through Fidelity Bank Plc.
The EFCC was said to have discovered the scam when the anti-graft agency began investigations into how officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom states received N675.1m.
It was gathered that ahead of the 2015 presidential election, Diezani sought out Okonkwo to help her handle some cash, which was meant to be shared to electoral officials and groups. Three companies, it was alleged paid the money into an account with Fidelity Bank
“The first company, Auctus Integrated, deposited $17,884,000 into the bank. The second company, Northern Belt Gas Company, deposited $60m while another company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, deposited $9.5m. A fourth company, Leno LaitanAdesanya, deposited $1.85m while the MD himself received $26m in cash.”
The report further stated that Diezani’s son, Ugonna Madueke, served as a middleman between the former minister and the MD of the bank. Ugonna Madueke reportedly sent the names of the beneficiaries of the funds, which included INEC officials and several interest groups as well as electoral officials.
“The MD said it was Diezani’s son that sent him a list of beneficiaries which included several INEC officials and election monitors across the 36 states. Diezani specifically instructed that the funds be disbursed at least a day or two before the elections. The total amount of money was $115m and Diezani told the bank to convert the funds into naira, which was about N23.3bn at the time.”
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“However, the suspects told us that the volume of money was too big and they had problems converting the funds. So, Diezani told the bank MD to use the bank’s funds and hold on to the dollars as collateral and that after elections, the bank could use the dollars to replace the bank funds.”
Meanwhile, the Commission has launched a manhunt for Ugonna, son to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke over his connection with the case.
According to sources at the EFCC, Ugonna is the key to arresting all those involved in the case. EFCC officials had stated that Diezani’s son served as a middleman between the ex-minister and the bank MD.
A senior official of the Commission who spoke with National Daily on condition of anonymity said the EFFC has launched a manhunt for Ugonna, who the suspects said was the one who drew up a list of individuals, who should be given the N23bn ($115m).
“We don’t know exactly where he is but we will get him. He needs to explain his role in the sharing of the money because the bank officials have been mentioning his name since they were brought in.”
Ugonna is the Head of Business Development and Commercial Marketing at Radam Maritime Services Limited, a firm, which is headed by his father, Alison Madueke, a former Chief of naval Staff, who is also under investigation by the EFCC for alleged money laundering.