Ex-Skye Bank chairman Tunde Ayeni escapes conviction

Tunde Ayeni

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has pulled back the N25.4 billion fraud case it filed against the chairman of the defunct Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank) Tunde Ayeni and the managing director, Timothy Oguntayo.

The commission’s move stems from an out-of-court settlement with the duo that may have involved the forfeiture of N15 billion in cash and assets.

Messrs Ayeni and Oguntayo and two companies were arraigned in 2019 at a Federal High Court in Abuja on 10 charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N25.4 billion.

The companies are Control Dredging Company Ltd and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Ltd.

PUNCH reports that it got hold of court documents showing that the EFCC withdrew the charges it filed against the duo, informing the court that a settlement had been reached.

However, the final amount of money Ayeni and his co-defendant reportedly returned was never made public, unlike other cases involving bank executives.

The newspaper gathered that the companies were then re-arraigned and made to plead guilty to the crimes that Ayeni had been accused of committing.

Lawyer Inibehe Effiong wondered why Ayeni escaped conviction.

“There has to be deterrence in the course of plea bargain so that others would not be emboldened to steal and then return a fraction of money and escape sentencing. There should be a guilty plea on record,” he said.

EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren told the newspaper he was unaware of the development.