Bureau de change operators and other suspects allegedly involved in the laundering of €150m have told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission how Atiku Abubakar’s lawyer, Uyiekpen Osagie-Giwa, and the ex-Vice-President’s son-in-law, Abdullahi Babalele, used an offshore firm, Intels West Africa, and shell companies to launder millions of dollars.
Osagie-Giwa and Babalele, who have been arrested by the EFCC, allegedly attempted to use money to induce voters to vote Atiku, who represented the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 23 presidential poll.
Following an intelligence report that some certain politicians and their associates were attempting to convert huge foreign currencies into naira to influence the elections, the EFCC set up a special team to monitor the activities of bureau de change operators in the country.
According to reports, the team thereafter made contacts with major BDC companies and got information that $1.6m brought from Abuja had been given to a popular bureau de change operator on Lagos Island identified as Lawal Abdullahi of Three Brothers BDC for the purpose of converting same to naira.
Our correspondent learnt the EFCC officials arrested two BDC operators, Abdullahi Shehu, working with Abdullahi Munaciki of Hasbunallahu BDC, Abuja, and Lawal Abdullahi of Three Brothers.
It was learnt that the team recovered the said $1.6m, but $141,000 had already been exchanged, while the balance of $1.459,000 could not be exchanged due to naira scarcity in the market.
Further investigations regarding the ownership as well as the source of the money revealed that Hasbunallahu BDC, who is also the owner of Clean and Integrity Services, received three transfers amounting to $5m on February 1, 4 and 14, 2019 from Guernsey Trust Company Nigeria Limited, an investment company being managed by Giwa-Osagie in trust.
The preliminary report of the investigation dated March 1, read, “On February 1, Abdullahi Munaciki received a transfer of $500,000 in his GTB dollar account named, Clean & Integrity Services Ltd., account number, 325/391103/2/1/0. The transfer came from Giwa-Osagie.
“On February 4, another transfer in the sum of $1.5m was received into Clean & Integrity Services GTB account from the company account of Guernsey Trust in Keystone Bank on the instruction of Giwa-Osagie.”
It added, “The third transfer was made on February 14, 2019 in the sum of $3m similarly from Guernsey Trust Company Ltd. account in GTB.”
The report also said the anti-graft body’s investigations into Guernsey Trust’s transactions showed that the company received two inflows of €13.050m on January 9 and €13m on January 28, 2019, totalling €26.050m from Intels West Africa Limited into its Keystone Bank’s euro account number 1002523061.
Further investigations indicated that the said euro inflows were converted to dollars and transferred in tranches of $14,362,500; $14,977,194.13 and $1m to Guernsey Trust’s dollar account number 1003057653 in Keystone Bank between January 11 and February 12, 2019.
Investigations also revealed that various transfers in millions of dollars and cash payments were subsequently made to various individuals and companies.
The suspects were also said to have told investigators that Guernsey Trust paid $750,000 to Bluebeam Capital Ltd. on January 18. The money was subsequently transferred to BLK Prestige Investment account in UBA, Zambia, while the naira equivalent was paid into the account of Andrew Pitchford Ltd by Spring Creek Ltd. on behalf of Bluebeam Capital Ltd. Babalele was said to be the signatory to Pitchford’s bank account.
Also on January 18, Root Capital Ltd. Allegedly received $1m into its Keystone Bank account from Guernsey Trust’s account in the same bank. Thereafter, the naira equivalent was paid into Andrew Pitchford account by Spring Creek on behalf of Root Capital Ltd.
On January 29, Guernsey Trust paid $2.065,934 into Root Capital Limited’s Keystone Bank account, and the naira equivalent in the sum of $856,569,200 was paid in tranches to Andrew Pitchford account by one Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, a brother to Atiku’s lawyer.
The EFCC report further listed the various companies which received various amounts of money from Erhunse on the instructions of his brother.
It said, “The sum of N100m was transferred to INK Business Design; the sum of N520m was transferred to Afritech Utilities Ltd.; N100m was transferred to Drum Roll Nig. Ltd.; N5m to Town Talk Ltd.; N200m to Re-Ignite Ltd.; N500m to Adama Beverages Ltd.; N289.8m was transferred to the personal accounts of Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie while Erhunse used N724m to purchase $2m and handed over same to someone in cash whose name has yet to be revealed.”