Afribank chief made bank pay more for shares, witness tells court



A Lagos High Court, Igbosere, yesterday heard that the Managing Director of defunct Afribank, Sebastine Adigwe made the bank’s subsidiary, Afribank Trustees to purchase the bank’s shares at higher rates.
Prosecution witness in the ongoing alleged N87.5 billion theft trial of Adigwe and other former executive directors of the bank, Emmanuel Al-Hassan told the Justice Olabisi Akinlade court that the former bank chief manipulated the subsidiary to buy the bank’s shares at a price higher than the actual market value.
Led in evidence by counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Dr. K. Ekwueme, the witness told the court that while the shares traded on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for N5.75 on January 27 and N8.66 on February 11, 2009, the shares were purchased by Afribank Trustees for N22 per unit under a buy-back arrangement involving Spring Capital Limited.
He said investigation revealed that Adigwe was the hand behind the higher price quoted for the shares, alleging that N8 billion cheque was issued by Afribank Trustees for the buy-back of the shares and the cheque was later seen in Adigwe’s office through his personal assistant, Dayo Afolabi.
“During investigation, we discovered that the same cheque raised in favour of Spring Capital Limited was forwarded to Union Bank Plc the day it got to the first defendant (Adigwe). The N8 billion was for payment for Afribank shares of about 360 million. We wrote a letter to the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Central Securities Clearing System Limited to find out the pricing of Afribank shares and we had a response to that, with the closing price for Afribank shares for January 27, 2009 as N5.75 and N8.66 on February 11, 2009.
“With the response from NSE, we discovered that the first defendant induced Afribank Trustees to pay higher than what they were supposed to pay originally by paying N22 per share as against N8.66,” he said.
After listening to the witness, Justice Akinlade adjourned the matter to June 18 for continuation.