Saraki used Kwara funds to repay private loans, purchase property in Nigeria, abroad –EFCC witness

Bukola Saraki docked

The corruption trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, finally got under way before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Tuesday after months of delays.

He faces charges including false declaration of assets while he was governor of Kwara State from 2003 to 2011, all charges that he denies.

Michael Wetkas, head of the team that investigated Saraki at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), took the stand as the first prosecution witness, telling the court Saraki had made massive payments into private company accounts.

He used the deposits were to repay personal loans from a local commercial bank and purchased property in Nigeria and abroad, Wetkas said.

Wetkas also said Saraki had laundered money through his British and US Bank accounts and failed to properly declare most of the assets.

Between 2005 and 2013, his Nigerian account had a total inflow and outflow of up to N4 billion naira Wetkas said, with the local bank loan being the major source of the inflow.

“In the course of our investigations, the committee discovered several companies whose activities are linked to defendant. The companies include Carlisle Properties and Investments Limited, Skyview Properties Limited, Linkers Nigeria Limited, Tiny-tee Limited and several others.

“Some of the companies maintain account with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Intercontinental Bank (Now Access Bank) Plc and others,” Wetkas said.

He also said the panel found that Saraki maintained three accounts with GTBank; One in Naira, another in dollar and one other in Pound Sterling.

“An Analysis of the accounts showed that from 2005 to 2013 about N4 Billion moved in and out of the accounts. The major source of cash in inflow from the accounts were loans taken from GTBank within the period.

“Loan disbursements into the accounts stood at N2.5 Billion, while other source of inflow were a massive cash lodgements by individuals. Investigations showed that inflows into the account of Carlisle properties Limited was used for the acquisition of properties.

“The dollar domiciliary account of Carlisle had over $2 million, while the total turnover of dollars from 2005 to 2013 was over $6 million. From the inflow into the dollar account, $3.4 million was wired to American Express Service Europe Ltd, used to fund an American express service New York Card No. 374588216836009,” he said.

Wetkast added that other payments into the account was changed into Pound Sterling and wired to the UK through Fortis Bank for purchase of a property in London at over £1.5million.

“From the telex transfer document available to investigators and positions taken from the bank, it is suggested that the Fortis account belongs to the defendant,” he said.

He said the EFCC invited some GTBank officials for questioning because it was observed that some of the lodgements into the account were done by the officials.

“One of them, Oluwatojimi Adeye, reported to the commission that the monies he lodged into the accounts were given to him by a superior officer, Bayo Dauda, who was the relationship manager of the account mentioned.

“Mr. Dauda informed investigators that the cash were handed to him by the defendant. He said he used to go to the Government House Ilorin to collect the cash. Most lodgements were done by two individuals, one Ubi and another Abdul Adama.

“Ubi in a single day made five separate lodgements of about N77 million in five transactions.”

“Abdul Adama on a single day made 50 lodgements into the same account of monies between N600, 000 to N980,000. Ubi made additional 20 lodgements on the same day of cash ranging from N600, 000 to N900,000.

“Adama said the monies were handed to him by the defendant and that he was also the one sending Ubi to make the lodgements because he worked under him.

“After a while, the pattern of inflow changed. Although the figures remained at N600,000 to N900,000, this time around lodgements were made by several individuals.

“Investigations revealed that those individuals were fictitious. The bank, when confronted, said they have done the needful by drawing a report to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU. They also provided evidence to that effect,” he said.