PPMC: How ex-MD Momoh used wife to launder $700m – ICPC alleges
Jane Asuquo, an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) witness, has told a Federal High Court, in Abuja, that Haruna Momoh, ex-Managing Director, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), used his wife, Ochuko, to launder $700million.
She said this on Wednesday while testifying as the 1st prosecution witness before Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the act was perpetrated between 2012 and 2015 when Haruna was the MD.
NAN reports that Ochuko, was on March 9, arraigned before Justice Taiwo by the ICPC.
Ochuko was arraigned alongside Blessing Azuka-Ngozi, Stanbic-IBTC Bank Plc, Energopol Nigeria Limited, Blaid Construction Limited and Blaid Farms Limited on a 22-count charge but later reduced to 13 counts.
The 1st defendant in the new charge, Haruna Momoh, is at large.
During examination by the ICPC Lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, Asuquo said “sometime in 2015, ICPC received a petition against Haruna Momoh freezing PPMC about 700 million dollars.
“The petition was initially assigned to another team at that time which had Paul Bassey, James Udoh etc, as members.”
Asuquo, an Assistant Chief Investigative Officer with the commission, said the case was reassigned to her team on July 19, 2018.
“We went through the file to see what our colleagues had done,” she recalled, adding that the team discovered that Ochuko had a number of companies which she used in conniving with her husband to defraud the PPMC.
“After we went through the file, we sent letters of invitation to 1st and 2nd defendants and requested documents from financial institutions used, the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), FCTA and other companies registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, etc.
“We received responses to letters sent out such as statements of account, account opening documents and other relevant documents,” she said.
She said letters were written to Stanbic-IBTC Bank, Union Bank, UBA, Access Diamond Bank Heritage Bank and Citibank.
Asuquo, however, said three letters were written to Ochuko, inviting her to the office but she failed to honour them.
The witness narrated how money was moved out of PPMC in tranches in the name of award of contracts.
Asuquo said investigations by the commission revealed that Ochuko and her children had over 50 accounts domiciled in different banks.
“There were lots of cash flows in these accounts running into billions in naira and in dollars. The investigation also revealed that the accounts were opened between 2012 and 2015 when Momoh was head of PPMC.
“We had a course to invite some banks like Stanbic-IBTC because when we went through the bank statements of Stanbic-IBTC, we discovered lots of abnormal inflows; a situation of somebody making a deposit of about N10 million in one day.
“We drew the attention of the bank to these and invited them if such transactions were normal and if they report this to NFIU and CBN,” she remarked.
Asuquo said that the bank, in a response letter, admitted that such an act was “abnormal.”
She said in the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Energopol Nigeria Limited had no office in Port Harcourt as claimed in their documents.
“The company address only exists on paper,” she stated, noting that further investigation showed that the bank statements of Blaid Construction Limited, though duly registered with CAC, did not indicate how salaries of the staff were paid contrary to the claim that they have over 10 employees working in the company.
“We requested for contract documents from PPMC and they obliged us. We discovered that in 2013, when Momoh was still the MD, he awarded a contract of N250 million to Blaid Construction Company, owned by his wife. We sought to invite the former PPMC MD but they responded that he could not be traced through his last address”.
Asuquo said Azuka-Ngozi could not provide the commission with any document since she said she was no longer working with Energopol Nigeria Limited.
“We wrote letters to CAC on the following companies: Ambassador International and Suit Ltd, Blaid Engineering, Blaid Construction Ltd, etc and they responded. We wrote to PPMC to invite Haruna Momoh but they wrote to us that they couldn’t get his last address.
“We write for the list of contracts awarded and PPMC wrote to us through a letter,” she said.
She added that the 313 Bureau De Change operator, one Abubakar Bashir, also wrote a letter to the commission in response to its findings.
The ICPC lawyer tendered the documents in evidence.
Justice Taiwo later adjourned the matter until October 28 and October 29.
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