Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki yesterday came under further scrutiny of the Code of Conduct Bureau Tribunal in Abuja when a senior staff of the Guaranty Trust Bank appeared and gave details of how the former Governor of Kwara State funded offshore accounts between 2009 and 2012.
Mr Amazi Nwachukwu, who is currently Head of Transfer Unit of the bank but had served at the Central Clearing and Foreign Operations Unit of the bank during those years, allegedly told the Danladi Umar led tribunal that Saraki operated foreign accounts while being a public servant and failed to declare same to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Answering questions from the witness box before the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, a SAN, Nwachukwu confirmed that Saraki kept dollar, pounds sterling and naira accounts in the Ilorin, Kwara State branch of Guaranty Trust Bank. Nwachukwu who read from a document of Saraki’s bank statements admitted as exhibits, stated that the Senate President between 2009 and 2012 transferred over $3m from his domiciliary account to foreign accounts. Other transfers included the sum of $73,223.28 to America Express Services Europe Limited, New York, through America Bank, New York Account.
“My Lord, Dr. Saraki filled the transfer request from Kwara State Government House, Ilorin” said Nwachukwu, adding,” he gave instruction to transfer the sum of $73,223.28 to the beneficiary, the American Express Services Europe, Limited, New York, through the America Express Bank, New York account 730580 maintained by America Express Services, Europe Limited. The purpose of the payment was funding for amounts utilized on AMEX cards issued to the customer dollar credit card no. 374588216836009.”
“For his dollar account no. 441/441953/2/1/0. the customer, Saraki signed the fund transfer form. The form was received from the account officers in Ilorin branch. We then processed it and transferred it to our corresponding bank abroad. The corresponding bank than transferred it to America Express Bank Limited”
Similar transfers allegedly made by Saraki, according to Nwachukwu, included the sum of I,526,194.53 pounds sterling from his account to Fortis Bank, London account in three installments within two days on February 15 and 16, 2010.
In addition, the Guaranty Trust Bank also offered a N375m loan to Saraki through a letter dated February 10, 2010… the purpose of the loan was for the purchase of the property in London”
Other payments requiring foreign transfers, according Nwachukwu, included “I,394.415.53 pounds sterling February 15,2010 for part-payment for mortgage redemption and another 1,516,194.53 on February 16, 2010 for full and final payment for mortgage redemption”
Though Nwachukwu admitted that he had no full knowledge of all the transfers, he however said a customer cannot authorized such transfers as he had testified to without maintaining accounts in banks in both local and foreign countries.
He said:” For a customer to give instruction to transfer money to another account in another bank, that customer must be maintaining an account in that bank”
Under cross examination by the defense counsel, Mr Paul Usoro, a SAN, Nwachukwu admitted that he had no full knowledge of the ties between Saraki and Fortis Bank, American Express Europe Limited and America Express Europe. He also admitted playing no active role in the documentation dealing with Saraki’s transactions.