Suspicious withdrawals of N117b by Rivers Govt, EFCC quizzes Zenith Bank MD

Zenith Bank MD, Peters Olisamedua Amangbo
… It’s Political Witch-hunt – Gov Wike
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  has quizzed the Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Peter Olisamedua Amangbo in connection with alleged N117b suspicious transactions by t Rivers State in the last
three years.
Amangbo has confessed that the bank raked in N5.2 billion as charges on the transactions.
The  sums were cashed over the counter by state officials for “unknown purposes” suspected to be money laundering.
The anti-graft agency is hunting for four officials of the state who were central to the massive withdrawals.
Among the officials are the Director of Finance and Accounts of the Government House in Port Harcourt, Fubara Similari and his cashier.
Sources in EFCC said the MD was quizzed on Thursday and granted bail at night before he was re-invited on Friday all through Sunday after being detained.
It could not be immediately ascertained if Amangbo has been released by the anti-corruption agency.
A top EFCC official said: “We have a case of unreported suspicious transactions which led to the invitation of the MD of Zenith Bank. We acted  after receiving financial  intelligence  alert.
“About N117billion was withdrawn in cash in the past three years by the Rivers State Government in violation of  the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
“The MD  cooperated with us confessed that the bank  saw the transactions as purely business issue and it realized about N5.2 billion  as transaction charges.
“Definitely, the bank has a case to answer because of lack of Suspicious Transaction Report(STR) and violation of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.”
Concerning Rivers State Government, the EFCC detectives uncovered how the withdrawals were made.
“The bulk of the money was collected by one official over the counter with as many as 45 to 50 cheques issued in one day.
“The records retrieved showed that  on June 8, 2015, about N450million was cashed over the counter through 45 cheques  with each cheque worth N10million.
“The same thing was done on June 9, 2015 when N500million was cashed
in bit of N10million. There is no record of what the cash was used for.
“There is a case of money laundering which we cannot gloss over.  And it is good that the MD of Zenith Bank has admitted that the bank did not report the suspicion transactions.
“Our detectives are making progress and the nation will soon be briefed on the findings of the EFCC.”
….  It’s Political Witch-hunt – Gov Wike

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has declared that  no official of the  Rivers State Government will appear before EFCC over her politically motivated investigations until the commission approaches the Court of Appeal to set aside the 2007 Judgment barring the commission from investigating the state.

In a statement on Sunday, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu quoted Governor Wike as describing tbe alleged action of the EFCC as a “political witch-hunt”.

The governor declared: “We are  not afraid of their probe and they have no power to probe  us.

“No government official will appear before the EFCC until they set aside the court judgment of Rivers State Government against them in 2007. We cannot be intimidated.

“They filed for leave to appeal the judgment at the Court of Appeal. Until they  set aside the judgment, we will  not come. “

Governor Wike said that the media trial by the EFCC will amount to nothing, pointing out that the Rivers State Government was aware of the move before it even started.

“We are aware of their tricks. They should not bother engaging in media trial because it will not work. This is mere political witch-hunt.

“They must obey the of law. We have filed another action against the EFCC.  Because they have been served, they are telling the Press that they have started investigating Rivers State Government.

“This media war by the EFCC  will not work. We stand on the rule of law”, Governor Wike stated.

It will be recalled that while Speaking on the freezing of Akwa Ibom State and Benue State accounts recently  at the Government House Port Harcourt , Governor Wike said that the ultimate target of the APC Federal Government is Rivers State, where they have already detailed the EFCC to carry out very unconstitutional activities.

He said: “There is no worse impunity than for the EFCC to shutdown  a tier of government through the freezing of the accounts of two State Governments.

“An agency of federal government has frozen the accounts of Akwa Ibom  and Benue State Governments . This is the worst coup against the constitution and the law-abiding people of those states.

“But the target is not Benue or Akwa Ibom States. The real target is Rivers State. The EFCC as a federal agency has no business with State Funds. That is the responsibility of the State House of Assembly “.

He said that Rivers State Government under Former  Rivers State Governor, Dr Peter Odili obtained got a court judgment that the EFCC  has no constitutional power to investigate state funds, pointing out that the EFCC  is yet to vacate that order at a superior court.

Governor Wike noted that the APC Federal Government has continued to use the EFCC for illegal actions in Rivers State, despite the Attorney General of Rivers State writing to the EFCC and attaching the said judgement against the Federal Agency.

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