The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday opened a money laundering case against the wife of ex-assistant governor Beauty Apere before the Federal High Court in Yenagoa.
Beauty is the wife of Embelakpo Apere, a Sustainable Development Goals Assistant to former Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson.
When the trial resumed, prosecution witness Timothy Owoeye, an EFCC official, testified that the commission had collaborated with several banks and regulatory agencies during its investigation.
Owoeye was led into evidence by prosecution lawyer Mustapha Iko.
He told the court that the EFCC acted on the basis of a Suspicious Transactions Report (STR) from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) while investigating the accused.
He noted that the NFIU STR indicated that between April and October 2015, 73 million naira, $ 51,900 and £ 3,800 were allegedly deposited into the defendant’s bank account at Guarantee Trust Bank, Yenagoa.
Owoeye also said that efforts to trace the source of the funds led the EFCC to question the registration status of Kare-X Fashions and Designs Nigeria Ltd with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
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He said the company, which the defendant claimed to be the source of the funds for, was not found in the CAC database.
The witness added that the defendant later claimed that it had other sources of business in the supply of granite and timber which were also closely scrutinized.
However, the EFCC said the income of the defendant’s timber business could not be determined because most of the buildings where the timber was allegedly used had been covered and occupied.
Owoeye attributed this development to the shortfall on funds that would have been laundered and the amount traced by the EFCC.
He presented letters from several organizations in response to the EFCC’s investigation, documents from six commercial banks as evidence, but the court noted that the documents were not detailed for ease of reference.
The trial judge, Judge Isa Ndahen, adjourned the case to November 4 to rule on the admissibility of the documents filed in evidence by the EFCC.
The absence of the EFCC star witness on 20 October blocked a 200 million naira money laundering lawsuit against Embelakpo Apere and his wife in separate court cases.
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It will be recalled that another Dickson collaborator Don-Evarada allegedly offered a 10 million naira gratuity when Apere was questioned by the EFCC in 2015 and was allegedly arrested by the current EFCC president, Abdulrasheed Bawa. , who was then zone chief of the EFCC in Port Harcourt.
The EFCC had arraigned Embelakpo and Beauty in court on October 8 for money laundering allegedly committed in 2015, but defense attorney for the duo Ardrew Arthur raised a motion for preliminary objection to the indictment of Apere.
The defense argued that Apere had already been tried and released and that the release amounted to an acquittal, but the prosecution argued that the release was based on technical details, not merit.
The judge adjourned until December 15 to rule on the motion opposing Apere’s indictment.