Criminal Law

EFCC presents second witness against four Fidelity Bank staff, one other in fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, presented its second prosecution witness, PW2, Peter Ige, an Information System Auditor with Fidelity Bank, in the ongoing trial of the quartet of Olusegun Babasola, Abisola Ahmed, Uchechukwu Uma and Jude Aphaeus, who are staff of the bank being prosecuted for an alleged N874m fraud before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.

The defendants alongside one Omidiji Joseph are facing a two-count charge for their various roles in the hacking of the bank’s database and cloning of more than 22 ATM cards used to steal and divert to personal use about N874 million belonging to five corporate customers:  American International Insurance Company Limited (AIICO); Interswitch; OVH Energy Marketing Ltd.; Fidelity Bank Sinking Fund Account and FSL Securities Ltd.

The fraud was allegedly perpetrated within three days.

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, prompting their full-blown trial.

At today’s proceedings, Ige narrated how his Department had been called upon to investigate the “massive fraud”.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, the witness identified the four staff of the bank in the dock and gave details of the findings of the internal investigation carried out by his team.

He said: “On 15 July 2019, as a System Auditor, my team was called upon to look at an instant of ATM fraud reported to the Internal Audit and to investigate same.”

Ige told the court that the team reviewed the systems, the affected accounts as well as those who must have carried out the activities on the accounts.

He also told the Court that “We observed that the accounts were linked to a set of ATM cards, with their daily withdrawal limits increased from N150,000 to about N150million.”

He further told the Court that the permitted frequency of withdrawal was also increased, adding that “This was very abnormal; and so, it aided the commission of the fraud.”

The PW2 also stated that the investigation focused on the members of staff who had authorised privilege and login details to view the accounts of customers and also increase such frequency and limits on withdrawals.

According to him, “Normally, there should be a request either from the customer or another department requesting the services.

“In this case, from our investigation conducted, there was no evidence provided by the defendants to go into these accounts.”

He told the court that after the investigation by his Department, an activity log was compiled, which formed part of the internal investigation.

The case has been adjourned till March 3, 2022, for the continuation of trial.

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