BREAKING: Nigerian Supreme Court Affirms Conviction Of Ex-Bank PHB Boss, Francis Atuche For N25.7Billion Fraud

This judgment brings a close to the protracted legal battle, which spanned over 13 years. The Supreme Court of Nigeria, on Friday, delivered a final verdict, upholding the conviction of Francis Atuche, former Managing Director of Bank PHB Plc, for a N25.7 billion fraud scheme.....Read The Full Story Here ▶

In a unanimous decision, the apex court ruled that Atuche failed to provide sufficient evidence to overturn his conviction, which was initially handed down by the trial court and subsequently affirmed by the Court of Appeal.

This judgment brings a close to the protracted legal battle, which spanned over 13 years.

Justice M.A.A. Adumein delivered the lead judgment, in which the Supreme Court reaffirmed its established precedent that when a trial court’s assessment of a party’s or witness’s credibility is substantiated by documentary evidence, an appellate court should not disturb the lower court’s decision, unless exceptional circumstances warrant intervention.

Guided by this principle, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Francis Atuche, aligning with the findings of the trial court and Court of Appeal.

In conclusion, the Court held that the Appellant did not give it any reason to tamper with the concurrent finding of the two lower courts.

Atuche; his wife, Elizabeth, and the bank’s former chief financial officer Ugo Anyanwu were in 2011 arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before Justice Okunnu of the High Court of Lagos State.

Francis Atuche and his co-defendants faced prosecution by Dr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), an EFCC prosecutor, on a 27-count amended charge related to their involvement in a fraudulent scheme totaling N25.7 billion.

The trial court after taking evidence of parties in its judgment delivered for almost 12 hours convicted and sentenced Atuche and Anyanwu on June 16, 2021, while also discharging and acquitting his wife.

Justice Okunnu noted that both convicts defrauded the bank using well-recognised stockbrokers to transfer money under the guise of loans and shares.

“It was a well-planned, well-executed scheme but the bubble burst when the Central Bank of Nigeria intervened,” she had said.

Not satisfied with the high court judgment, Atuche filed an appeal.

On June 23, 2022, after hearing the appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction of both Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu while reducing his sentence to a jail term of 12 years.

The Supreme Court earlier this year heard Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), leading Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Prof. Fidelis Oditah (SAN) in the appeal which was initiated by Atuche against his conviction, while Dr. Pinheiro (SAN) who held the fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation led the team of lawyers representing the state, including Sebastine Hon (SAN).

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