Ahead of trial for laundering of $2million, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has detained Abdullahi Babalele, who is a son-in-law to ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and Atiku’s lawyer, Mr. Uyi Giwa-Osagie.
Babalele is expected to account for about €41,900,000.
The two suspects have been under investigation since February for making cash payment without going through financial institution.
Some of the cash have been traced to the accounts of Osagie, Babalele, two slush firms and two Bureau De Change operators.
Although charges were said to have been preferred against the suspects, no date has been fixed for their arraignment.
A top source in the commission said: “The two suspects have been detained in preparation for their arraignment in connection with cash payment of $2million without going through financial institution. The sum exceeded the amount authorized by Law.
“They are to face trial for offence contrary to Section 18(a), and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
The offence is also contrary to sections 1(a). & 16(1).(d) of the Money Laundering(Prohibition) Act, 2011 (As Amended) and Punishable under section 16 of the Same Act.”
The EFCC had on February 11 intercepted a $1.6m transaction at a Bureau De Change on the Lagos Island.
A brief on the case reads in part: “In the course of our routine exercise of monitoring BDCs, our operatives went to a market on Lagos Island where they intercepted $1.6million at a Bureau De Change. We intercepted the dollars because they were unable to convert it into Naira.
“The $1.6m was already given to the BDC operator on the island for exchange into Naira. As at the time our operatives moved in, about $141,000 out of the $1.6million was already converted into Naira at the rate of N358 per dollar. The balance of $1, 459,000 was still intact because of the scarcity of Naira.
“Those interrogated claimed that the $1.6m belonged to a BDC man in Abuja. Further investigation on the real owner of the cash led to the identification of Mr. Uyi Giwa-Osagie.
“We interviewed Uyi but he was not forthcoming on how he came across the money.
“We however traced huge inflows into Uyi Giwa-Osagie’s account (Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited) to the tune of €26,050,00million. The same account received the conversion in dollars.
“From this dollar account, transfers were made to BDCs and that was how we intercepted the $1.6m”.
“Painstaking investigation made by our operatives made them to discover how €41,900,000 was wired into an account of a suspected shell company called Afritech Utilities by Intels West Africa Limited. Part of the same inflows was transferred to various BDCs for the purpose of conversion to Naira. The signatory of Afritech Utilities happens to be Abdullahi Babalele.
“Investigation confirmed that Afritech Utilities has three staff including two directors and one secretary.
“The profiling showed that there is no particular business that Afritech is engaged in. Babalele at a point claimed the company is engaging in importation of cars but no shred of document to prove. Later he said the importation of the cars was for family use.
“It is more or less a shell company. Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited is only protecting the interest of others.”