Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday granted a former chairman of the defunct Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank), Mr Tunde Ayeni, on his plead, more time to conclude settlement talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the money laundering charges the agency instituted against him in March.
Ayeni, through his lawyer, Dele Adesina (SAN), said he needed about one and a half months to conclude the talks.
The EFCC had, on March 7, 2019, arraigned Ayeni alongside a former managing director of Skye Bank, Timothy Oguntayo, and two companies, Control Dredging Company and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited, before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
However, Ayeni pleaded not guilty to the 10 counts of money laundering involving alleged fraudulent withdrawal of funds running into billions of naira from the bank’s suspense account.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N100m with a surety.
But at the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the EFCC’s counsel, Suraj Saeda (SAN), said the defence had not had any discussion with the commission since July this year when the matter was adjourned on the request by the defence to explore the out-of-court settlement option.
Although Adesina, who led Ayeni’s defence team on Monday, confirmed that the defence had yet to engage the EFCC in the talk, he said there was an ongoing discussion with the bank at the end of which the EFCC would be involved.
The Prosecuting councel urged the Court to proceed the trial of Ayeni and Oguntayo, stating that the defendants’ acts which formed the charges were criminal infraction.
But the judge said she could not order the trial to proceed because the prosecution did not give prior notice to the court that the settlement talks had broken down.
She adjourned till November 21 for “report of settlement.”
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