Ex-PPMC MD, used wife to launder agency’s $700m, witness alleges in court

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Mrs Jane Asuquo, an Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)’s witness, on Wednesday, told a Federal High Court, Abuja, that Haruna Momoh, former Managing Director, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), used his wife, . Ochuko, to launder the agency’s 700 million dollars.
Asuquo, while testifying as 1st prosecution witness before Justice Taiwo Taiwo, said the act was perpetrated between 2012 and 2015 when Haruna was the MD.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ochuko, was on March 9, arraigned before Justice Taiwo by the ICPC.

She was arraigned alongside Blessing Azuka-Ngozi, Stanbic-IBTC Bank Plc, Energopol Nigeria Limited, Blaid Construction Limited and Blaid Farms Limited on a 22-count charge but later reduced to 13 counts.
However, the 1st defendant in the new charge, Haruna Momoh, is said to be at large.
Asuquo, while giving her evidence-in-chief during examination by the ICPC Lawyer, Osuobeni Akponimisingha, said “sometime in 2015, ICPC received a petition against Haruna Momoh freezing PPMC about 700 million dollars.
“The petition was initially assigned to another team at that time which had Paul Bassey, James Udoh etc, as members.”

On why the case was reassigned to her team, she said “if the management is not satisfy by investigation carried out by a team, it can reassign the case.”

The witness, who is also an Assistant Chief Investigative Officer with the commission, said the case was reassigned to her team on July 19, 2018.
“We went through the file to see what our colleagues had done,” she said.
She said the team discovered that Mrs Haruna had a number of companies which she used in connivance with her husband to defraud PPMC.
“After we gone through the file, we sent letters of invitation to 1st and 2nd defendant and requested for documents from financial institutions used, the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), FCTA and other companies registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, etc.
“We received responses to letters sent out such as statements of account, account opening documents and other relevant documents,” she said.
She said letters were written to Stanbic-IBTC Bank, Union Bank, UBA, Access Diamond Bank Heritage Bank and City Bank.
Asuquo, however, said three letters were written to Ochuko, inviting her to the office but she failed to honour them.

She narrated how money was moved out of PPMC in tranches in the name of award of contracts.
The witness said investigation by the commission revealed that Ochuko and her children had over 50 accounts domiciled in different banks.
“There were lots of cash flows in these accounts running into billions in naira and in dollars.
“The investigation also revealed that the accounts were opened between 2012 and 2015 when Momoh was head of PPMC.
“We had course to invite some banks like Stanbic-IBTC because when we went through the bank statements of Stanbic-IBTC, we discovered lots of abnormal inflows; a situation of somebody making a deposit of about N10 million in one day.
“We drew the attention of the bank to these and invited them if such transactions were normal and if they report this to NFIU and CBN,” she remarked.
The witness said that the bank, in a response letter, admitted that such act was “abnormal.”
She said in the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Energopol Nigeria Limited had no office in Port Hacourt as claimed in their documents.
“The company address only exist on paper,” she said.
She said further investigation showed that the bank statements of Blaid Construction Limited, though duly registered with CAC, did not indicate how salaries of staff were paid contrary to the claim that they have over 10 employees working in the company.
On the Blaid Farm, she wrote that it was yet to take off.
“We requested for contract documents from PPMC and they oblique us. When we analysed it, we discovered that in 2013, when Momoh was still the MD, he awarded a contract of N250 million to Blaid Construction Company, owned by his wife.
“We sought to invite the former PPMC MD but they responded that he could not be traced through his last address,” she said.
Asuquo said Azuka-Ngozi could not provide the commission with any document since she said she was no longer working with Energopol Nigeria Limited.
“We wrote letters to CAC on the following companies: Ambassador International and Suit Ltd, Blaid Engineering, Blaid Construction Ltd, etc and they responded.
“We wrote to PPMC to invite Haruna Momoh but they wrote to us that they couldn’t get his last address.
“We write for the list of contracts awarded and PPMC wrote to us through a letter,” she said.
She added that the 313 Bureau De Change operator, one Abubakar Bashir, also wrote a letter to the commission in response to its findings.
The ICPC lawyer then tendered the documents in evidence.
Justice Taiwo later adjourned the matter until Oct. 28 anf Oct. 29 for trial continuation.(NAN)

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