Francis Atuche’s Conviction and Why EFCC Needs A Dept of Financial Crime Prevention

Francis Atuche’s Conviction and Why EFCC Needs A Dept of Financial Crime Prevention

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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4 thoughts on “Francis Atuche’s Conviction and Why EFCC Needs A Dept of Financial Crime Prevention

  1. Department of Financial Crime Prevention? The same way we construct roads and allow them to degenerate without maintenance, so that they can be awarded as fresh contracts again. Nobility and decency are alien to us, so even with all our education and travels around the world, our thoughts and actions remain debasing and shameful.

    Hope there’s something to recover from the latest mafia, or has everything been squandered? Going to jail without recovering the money means very little, I am more concerned with where the money entered.

    It’s the same filthy and unconscionable creatures that run Corporate Nigeria that we will still encourage to take up public service, as if they are anything different from funny creatures we have on the other side.

    This thing called moral excellence is something we are deficient of, and until we improve on that count, we are really nothing as a people.

    The land is not producing enough fine breeds, what we are currently producing aren’t good enough to run a nation sustainably and successfully.

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  2. Till today jungle justice is being meted out to phone thieves and petty thieves even on false accusations in the the streets of Lagos and across the nation. However, the elites steal destinies and destroy lives and only get a tap on their wrists. The masses are venting their frustrations on themselves.

    I support the idea of a financial crime prevention department not only in the EFCC and ICPC, but also across every public and private institution. The incentives for reporting corruption should be greater than the benefits of participation. And the consequences of complicity and silence should be great.

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