A Federal High Court in Lagos today ordered the permanent forfeiture of £578,080 in a Diamond Bank account belonging to a firm, ZAL Marine Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had contended that the money was reasonably suspected to be proceeds from unlawful activities.
Justice Saliu Saidu made the order after listening to an ex parte application argued by the counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, under the provisions of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006.
Oyedepo claimed that the money was stolen by the ZAL Maritime Limited through some employees of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
He also submitted that “an application of this nature is designed to prevent the dissipation of funds/property that is suspected to be proceeds of crime found in possession of any person without necessarily convicting the suspect in whose custody the property is found”.
The EFCC in affidavit deposed to by one of its investigators, Musbahu Yahaya Abubakar, stated that it received intelligence report on a monumental fraud in NIMASA and that part of the proceeds of the alleged fraud was transferred to the respondent, ZAL Marine Limited.
Abubakar also averred that the respondent allegedly conspired with some employees of NIMASA namely Macfoy Irene and Chukwu Emeka Emmanuel to defraud the agency.
He alleged that the said Macfoy Irene used her position as an Assistant Director and Head of Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme to facilitate the fraudulent transfer of £1,074,600 from NIMASA’s Zenith Bank (UK) Account to an offshore account belonging to Swiss Bulk carriers S.A under the false pretence of training 54 Nautical Science and Marine Engineering Students on Sea Training on 16th March, 2013.
Abubakar further stated: “That out of the said £1,074,600, the respondent herein, without any contractual relationship with NIMASA, also fraudulently received and retained the sum of £578,080 from Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A.
“That the fund was transferred from NIMASA’s Account without any Parastatal or Ministerial Tender Board approval and/or contract with NIMASA.
“That there was no contractual relationship or agreement that existed between NIMASA, Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A and the respondent to warrant this fraudulent transfer of the funds sought to be forfeited.
“That before effecting the said fraudulent transfer to Swiss Bulk Carrier S.A, the mandatory value added tax and remittance to the Federal government of Nigeria was unlawfully evaded.
“That the Respondent is a front company to Mrs. Irene U. Macfoy, An Assistant Director with NIMASA and the Head of the Nigeria Seafarers Development Program.
“That the Respondent is an agent of Swiss Bulk Carriers S.A who fraudulently retained and converted to their use the total sum of £496,520 out of the said £1,074,600.
“That the Respondent is reasonably suspected to have conspired with others to steal the above fund from the Federal Government of Nigeria.”