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A prosecution witness, Peter Ademola Adegoke, a Compliance Officer with Fidelity Bank Plc, on Friday, November 29th told Justice Abdullai Liman of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N18bn was allegedly paid into the account of a company, Ismalob Global Investments, belonging to Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha.
Mompha was arraigned on November 25, 2019 on a 14-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N33 billion. Adegoke, told the judge that evidence showed that Mompha was the sole signatory to Ismalob Global’s naira account. Reading from the firm’s statement of account, Adegoke told the court that between 2015 and October 2019, there was a total inflow of N18.5bn into the account, while a total of about N18bn moved out within the same period.
He said the account had a balance of N598,000. At Friday’s sitting, the first prosecution witness, PW1, Anne Nnenna Ezekannagha, a Manager in the Customers Service Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, told the court that Mompha’s company, Ismalob Ventures, was not registered with the CBN and that he did not have the license to operate as a Bureau de Change operator.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Ezekannagha further told the court that “We got a letter from the EFCC on the activities of Ismalob Global Ventures. “However, we have no history of the name with the CBN.”
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She said for the CBN to licence a firm as a BDC operator, such firm must show evidence of incorporation as a limited liability company by the Corporate Affairs Commission. She explained that all licensed BDCs have a transaction limit of $5,000. When the defence counsel, Gboyega Oyewole SAN, asked her whether it was unlawful for an individual who has foreign currency in his domiciliary account to give foreign currency to a friend in exchange for naira, the CBN official said it would not be unlawful if it was not a commercial transaction.
She said it becomes a commercial transaction if it involves making profit and it would be illegal. A Benin City-based BDC operator, Ikenna Okafor, who testified as another prosecution witness, told the court that he did business with Ismalob Global Investment Limited through “one of its directors, Alhaji Ahmadu Mohammed.”
Okafor said Mohammed used to come to his base in Benin, Edo State, to buy Euro in the name of Ismalob Global Investment Limited. “After negotiation with Ismalob Global Investment Limited through Alhaji Mohammed, he usually makes payment into my account through Ismalob,” Okafor said.
Under cross-examination by Oyewole, Okafor said he met Mompha for the first time three days ago at the EFCC office in Ikoyi. The BDC operator said he was detained for seven days by the EFCC before being released on an administrative bail during the week.