Oronsaye accused of secretly diverting N190m

Chukwumerije Aja, Abuja

A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of a former Head of Service and former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force, Stephen Orosanye, has told an Abuja High Court how the defendant opened a secret account in the name of the task team to divert about N190 million belonging to the Federal Government.

The witness who is an employee of Access Bank Plc, Olubunmi Ojoko being led in evidence by the EFCC’s lead prosecuting counsel, Ufom Uket, told the court that Orosanye  opened the Access Bank  account on behalf of the task team in 2012, without obtaining an approval from the Accountant-General of the Federation.

“He (Oronsaye) called me that he needed to open an account on behalf of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force.

I met him at his residence in Asokoro, where I handed him the documents for the account, including the Access Bank account opening request of the committee signed by him, his passport photograph, copy of his passport and documents that set up the committee by the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

I scrutinised the documents and discovered that the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval was not included. So I asked him for it and he said it was not necessary. I asked for the Accountant-General of the Federation’s approval because it is needed when opening a government account. Since he said that it wasn’t necessary, I took him by his word.

I took the documents to the bank and the account was opened”, she stated.

She further told the court that she never met any other member of the committee, including Mr. Jalal Arabi, a counsel in the Presidential Villa, who served as the secretary to the committee, throughout the period the account was operated.

She added that there were a total of four deposits into the account from the CBN and other cash deposits, adding that they totalled N285 million, part of which were invested in fixed deposits with part of the interests that accrued, re-invested.

Ojoko further stated that as of the time the account was closed, Oronsaye had withdrawn from the account about N150m which was partly the accrued interests on the investments, through cheques which he allegedly issued in favour of himself and various beneficiaries.

Bank trail

Highlighting the inflow of cash into the account, the witness stated that, “the first transfer was N50m in October 2012. The second was in April 2012 was N90m from the CBN. In May 2013, there was another  cash lodgment of N45m . The fourth lodgment of N100m came in December 2014 from CBN.

“After the first lodgment (of N50m from CBN) several cheques were drawn by the defendant (Oronsaye). In favour various beneficiaries.The second inflow of N90m was invested in fixed deposit account. It was fixed in Banker’s Acceptance which is a form of investment, for 90 days at 9 per cent. On maturity, the N45m (the third inflow) had come and it was fixed for 90 days.

Upon maturity, they (the investments) were usually rolled over on the instruction of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye and the interest were credited into his current account. The N100m (the fourth inflow) came in December 2014 and it was placed in fixed in Banker’s Acceptance for 90 days.

The total of investments and roll overs were about 28. About N150m interests accrued on all the investments.Now the account is at zero balance after the N163.5m in it was transferred to the Treasury Single Account.”

The witness was led to read from the statement of the account which was tendered and admitted by the court without any objection from the defence.

Ojoko while giving the breakdown of the cash withdrawals from the account, said, ” On September 20, 2013 -there was a cheque withdrawal of N900,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

“On October 31, 2013, there was a cheque withdrawal of N500,000 in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.On December 12, 2013, there was a cash withdrawal of N3m in favour of Mr. Stepehen Oronsaye. On December 23, 2013, there was another withdrawal of N3m in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

“On January 29, 2014, there was another withdrawal of N3m in favour of Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 3, 2014, there was a withdrawal of N3m by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On February 17, 2014, there wa a withdrawal of N600,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

On April 8, 2014, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, withdrew N3m with cheque.On July 3, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3m by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On July 10, 2014, there was withdrawal of N3m by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On October  30, 2014, N900,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On December, 17, 2014, there was  N3m withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.

On December 22, 2014, the sum of N950,000 was withdrawn by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On Decenber 24, 2014, there was withdrawal of  N980,000 by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On January 6, 2015, there was N2m withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 16, 2015, the sum of N650,000 was withdrawn  by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye. On March 20, 2015, there was N3m withdrawal by Mr. Stephen Oronsaye.”

The account opening package, bank statements, mandate documents raised by Oronsaye and other documents relating to the account were also admitted as exhibits.

The trial judge, Justice Olasumbo Goodluck however adjourned for cross-examination of the witness.

The EFCC had on March 15, 2016 arraigned Oronsaye on a two count charge of breach of trust which he allegedly committed between 2013 and 2014 by defrauding the Federal Government of N190m using his position as the then Chairman of the Presidential Committee on FATF.

Oronsaye was accused of converting the  N190m to his  personal use through the investment of the fund in Access Bank Plc’s Banker’s Acceptance for a tenor of 90 days at 9 and 12 per cent interest rates in violation of the extant financial regulations.