What a pity and something for everyone to learn from: Francis Atuche is going to jail! An Ikeja court (Lagos) sentenced him to six years imprisonment for defrauding the bank the sum of N25.7 billion.The ex-Managing Director of Bank PHB (now part of Keystone Bank) was an ace operator who fell to his demons. Yet, sending a man to jail for destroying the lives of many does not offer full justice, Nigeria needs to work harder to prevent these crimes. I drive around America and see mechanic shops which are 50 years old and counting, run by human beings.
“By stealing from the bank, they stole from innocent customers of the bank.
I hereby make an order of restitution against the first and third defendants to refund the sums stated in counts one to 11, 14 and 24.
The sums are to be paid to the relevant agencies that recovered the funds on behalf of the bank.
The first defendant is hereby sentenced to six years imprisonment on counts one to 11, 14 to 20, 23 and 24,” Okunnu said.
The third defendant is hereby sentenced to four years imprisonment on counts one to 11, 14 to 20, 23 and 24,” she held.
The judge, however, held that the sentences would run concurrently.
“It was a well-planned, well-executed scheme but the bubble burst when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened,” she said.
She revealed that both men stole from the bank using well-recognised stockbrokers to transfer money belonging to the bank under the guise of loans and shares.
Meanwhile, Atuche begged the judge not to send him to jail, pleading for mercy he said, “All the time I was the MD of Bank PHB, I gave my all to the bank.
Never at any material time did it occur to me that I would set up a scheme to defraud the bank.
I plead for mercy, leniency, your kindness, and I plead that out of your kindness and generosity, you will not allow me to go to jail. I am sorry and remorseful,” Justice Okunnu.
Yet, we cannot keep a banking institution up and running for two decades. I do think we need to make the Whistleblower regulations stronger so that junior workers can be bold to report these things to law enforcement. Convicting 2-3 people for stealing N25.7 billion sounds good but the biggest shame is that hundreds of workers who saw the sleaze did not have the tools to have reported to stop it.
Nigeria must invest in prevention rather than just prosecution, and I am calling EFCC to open a Department of Financial Crime Prevention. There are some fundamental things we can do in Nigeria to reduce these crimes. It needs to understand that convicting these men offers marginal value; the biggest victory is preventing these crimes! Time for that playbook! This video explains.
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