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EFCC arrests Fidelity Bank MD over Diezani’s $115m

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Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo who is the managing director and chief executive officer of Fidelity bank Plc has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly receiving and helping to disburse $115 million belonging to Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The former minister of petroleum resources has been under the radar of the EFCC for alleged corruption during her capacity as minister.

The Punch reports that apart from Okonkwo, Mr. Martins Izuogbe who is the head of operations of the same bank was also arrested in what the anti-graft agency described as an unprecedented scam.

An EFCC source who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that in the build-up to the 2015 election, Diezani invited Okonkwo to help her handle some cash, which would be disbursed to electoral officials and groups.

Investigation carried out by the commission revealed that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Delta and Akwa Ibom states received N675.1 million.

“The MD of Fidelity Bank has been arrested and is currently in our custody. During investigations into the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners, we got a major breakthrough as funds disbursed were traced to Fidelity Bank.

“We invited the MD, who then confessed to us that during the build-up to the presidential election, Diezani invited him to a meeting in Abuja. Diezani told him that some companies would deposit some funds in his bank and that she would give him further instructions on how the funds would be disbursed.

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“The first company, Auctus Integrated, deposited $17,884,000 into the bank. The second company, Northern Belt Gas Company, deposited $60m while another company, Midwestern Oil and Gas, deposited $9.5m. A fourth company, Leno Laitan Adesanya, deposited $1.85m while the MD himself received $26m in cash.”

It was alleged that Ugonna Madueke who is the son of the former petroleum minister served as the middle man between the bank and Diezani.

The banker confessed that it was Diezani’s son who forwarded the names of the beneficiaries of the funds, which included INEC officials, several interest groups as well as election monitors, who were expected to compromise the electoral process.

The EFCC source said: “The MD said it was Diezani’s son that sent him a list of beneficiaries which included several INEC officials and election monitors across the 36 states. Diezani specifically instructed that the funds be disbursed at least a day or two before the elections. The total amount of money was $115m and Diezani told the bank to convert the funds into naira, which was about N23.3bn at the time.

“However, the suspects told us that the volume of money was too big and they had problems converting the funds. So, Diezani told the bank MD to use the bank’s funds and hold on to the dollars as collateral and that after elections, the bank could use the dollars to replace the bank funds.”

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The source wondered why Okonkwo would allow himself to be used by the former minister as she did not operate any account with the bank in the first place.

“He may be charged with conspiracy once we are done with investigations.”

A senior official at Fidelity bank said the bank would release a statement soon although it had little facts at the moment.

“We don’t have all the facts of the case yet. However, we will issue a statement on the matter on Thursday.”

Earlier, the anti-graft agency said houses, a wrist watch worth £600,000 and jewelry in gold and diamond have been confiscated from Diezani as part of the development in the corruption investigation against her.

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