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Court Convicts Four Companies Linked to Patience Jonathan for Laundering $15.7m

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  • Court Convicts Four Companies Linked to Patience Jonathan for Laundering $15.7m

A Federal High Court in Lagos wednesday convicted the four companies allegedly used by a former Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-owei Emmanuel Dudafa, to launder $15,591,700.

The trial judge, Justice Babs Kuewum, convicted the companies after the counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo, had reviewed the facts of the charge and agreed with by the directors of the companies.

The companies convicted by the court are: Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited.

The purported companies’ directors had earlier pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies.

They are Friday Davis: Agbo Baro; Kola Fredrick; and Taiwo Ebenezer and China John.

The four companies were charged alongside Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Azubike Briggs, and Adedamola Bolodeoku, a senior staff of Skye Bank Plc, on alleged $15.591,700, which the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, is laying claim to.

Reviewing the facts of the charge against the four companies yesterday, Oyedepo informed the Justice Kuewumi led-court that Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, between November 14 to 19, 2014, retained the sum of $1,940,500, $1.2 million, $1,340,700, $1,895,400, and $1.2 million in its account number 2110002207:and 2110002238 domiciled with Skye Bank.

He also stated that Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited also retained in its accounts number domiciled with Skye Bank the sum of $1,897,700, between February 21 and November 19, 2014.

Oyedepo further informed the court that Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, also retained in its Skye Bank accounts number 2110002243 the sum of $1,839,900.

While Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited retained the sum of $250,000, in its account number 0122493290, domiciled with WEMA bank Plc, on February 28, 2015.

He informed the court that the said monies were proceeds of crime, and they were paid into the four companies’ accounts by one Festus Iyoha, who was a domestic servant at the State House, Abuja.

He also informed the court that the said Iyoha had paid the monies into the companies’ accounts at the order of the first defendant in the charge, Dudafa.

Oyedepo after reviewing the facts of the charge, also tendered the documents such as the companies’ bank mandate forms, account opening packages and the CAC’s Forms 2, which indicated that the purported directors are major shareholders in the companies.

However, lawyers representing other accused persons, Gboyega Oyewole, Ige Asemudara and Joseph Okobieme, urged the court to allow their clients to go through the documents sought to be tendered by the prosecutor, saying that they were all charged on the offence of conspiracy, which is count one of the charge.

The lawyers also stated that admitting of the documents, would have negative impact on their clients.

Upon the submission made by the lawyers, the prosecutor pleaded with the court to expunge the name of Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku from the count one.

Consequently, the court admitted the documents sought to be tendered by the prosecutor.

Besides, the court asked the purported directors if they agreed with the facts reviewed by the prosecutor, and they all stated that they agreed with that all the facts.

Consequently, Justice Babs Kuewumi pronounced all the four companies guilty as charged but declined to pronounce sentence on them.

The court stated that sentence will be determine at the conclusion of trial of other accused persons in the matter.

Justice Kuewumi held that “in view of the facts stated by the prosecutor, and based on the evidence tendered and agreement of the companies’ directors. The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“The companies are found guilty in count 2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9. In order not to prejudice the case of first, second and third defendants, sentencing them is hereby reserved pending the end of the trial of the first, second and third defendants.”

The four companies linked to Patience Jonathan namely: Pluto Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Seagate Property and Investment Development Company Limited, Transoceanic Property and Investment Development Company Limited, and Avalon Property and Investment Development Company Limited, through their purported directors, had pleaded guilty when they were last arraigned before Justice Babs Kuewumi led-court.

Upon the guilty pleas of the purported directors of the companies, the court adjourned till yesterday, for the review of the matter.

The matter has been adjourned till December 16, for continuation of trial of the three other accused persons.

The EFCC in a second amended charge marked FHC/337C/16, alleged that the three accused persons alongside the four companies, between November 13, 2013 and March 31, 2015, conspired with one Sombre Omeibi, who is now at large, to retain the sum of $15,591,700, which them reasonably ought to have know forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, and thereby committed offences bordering on money laundering, stealing,

The EFCC also alleged that the said money was wired through account numbers: 2110002207; 2110002245; 2110002238; 0122493290; 2110002252; domiciled in Skye Bank Plc.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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