NINE officials of Consolidated Discount House Limited were on Monday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos for allegedly perpetrating fraud running into N16, 738,700,401.56 in the organisation between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2013.
The accused who are being prosecuted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation are Stephen Akinretoye, Mudashiru Shittu, Larai Claude-Ennin, Hassan Gbenga, and Ajibola Jolaosho.
Others are Omisore Olawale, Omisope Johnson, Onimole Adebowale and Emmanuel Odedina.
The 24 counts pressed against them by the AGF bordered on alleged failure to exercise due diligence in the conduct of the firm’s financial transactions and advanced fee fraud.
The AGF office, in the charge filed through its lawyer, Chief J.B. Daudu, alleged that the accused, with intent to defraud the organisation, failed to keep proper financial record and failed to give proper state of affairs of the firm.
They were also accused of using their various positions in the company to divert several funds belonging to the company to different accounts.
Daudu claimed that the accused persons violated Sections 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, as amended in 2012, and were liable to being punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
He said the offences were also contrary to Section 24 of Banks and other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and Section 7(3) (b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act, Cap A6, LFN 2010.
But upon reading the 24 counts to the nine accused persons, they pleaded not guilty.
The defence counsel, comprising Mr. Kemi Balogun, Dr. Abiodun Layonu and Mr. Dapo Olanipekun, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, subsequently pleaded with the court to allow the accused persons to continue on the bail condition earlier granted them.
The presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, granted the prayer and adjourned till May 13, 2016 for commencement of trial.