Connect with us

Government

Court Okays EFCC’s Power to Freeze Suspicious Accounts

Published

on

Achike Udenwa
  • Court Okays EFCC’s Power to Freeze Suspicious Accounts

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the power of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has the power to freeze suspicious accounts.

The court said the anti-graft agency can direct banks to suspend operation of accounts suspected to have been used for criminal activities, or any account of into which slush funds and proceeds of crime have been deposited.

The court, however, said such a directive by the EFCC to banks must be followed by an order of a court for interim freezing, which it must obtain from a competent court, to enable it conduct investigation to ascertain the origin of the funds.

The appellate court said these in a unanimous judgment by its three-man panel on an appeal by Messrs A. R. Security Solutions Limited, which challenged the refusal by a Federal High Court in Abuja to vacate an interim freezing order earlier granted against it.

Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on January 25, 2016, granted an ex-parte application by the EFCC for, among others, an interim freezing order on A. R. Security accounts with Heritage Bank.

R Security applied to the court to have the order set aside, a request Justice Nyako, in a ruling on April 22, 2016, refused, prompting the company to approach the appellate court.

Justice Mohammed Mustapha, who prepared the lead judgment of the appellate court, resolved the sole issue raised for determination against the appellant.

The issue was whether the trial court was right to have held that the EFCC could obtain an order of court to temporarily freeze the appellant’s account, once the account is the subject of investigation.

Justice Mustapha said while the EFCC was empowered, under sections 28 and 29 of its establishment Act to trace, attach and apply for interim freezing order on such suspicious accounts, the court, under Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution, was empowered to grant such interim injunction.

He said: “The respondent (EFCC) clearly bears the burden of establishing that there is a prima facie evidence that the property in issue is liable to be forfeited on account of its being proceed of crime.

“That burden is discharged once there is an arrest for an offence under the Act (EFCC Act), and the respondent traces the assets and attaches the property of the accused person acquired as a result of economic and financial crimes. That done, the respondent is entitled to an interim attachment order by the court.”

Justice Mustapha agreed with the appellant that the EFCC must show that the origin of the suspicious funds is illegal.

He added: “If bank accounts have to be investigated with any degree of success for the purpose of tracing criminality in transactions, how else can that be done without exercising some degree of control over the account?

“It stands to logic and common sense that any serious investigation of criminality in a bank account has to first and foremost start with taking control of the bank account or at least putting restraints on the account; anything short of that will be quixotic, because funds in the account investigated will simply take a flight. That is the logic behind sections 28 and 29 of the Act.

“Prima facie proof starts, for the purpose of the Act, with arrest of the accused person for financial and economic crimes, which now denotes, at this stage, that the monies in the account are likely proceeds of crimes, and therefore, liable to forfeiture, thus necessitating the grant of the interim order.

“It is for these reasons that the money in the accounts is fair game, because that attachment and proper investigation of such accounts will assist the respondent (EFCC) in prosecuting the accused successfully or consequently lead to the discharge of the order, depending on how the investigation goes.

“The need for credible evidence, showing the money to be proceeds of crime, underscores the necessity for the respondent’s mandate to ‘immediately trace and attach’ the property.”

He added that the grant of the interim order by the court was to enable the EFCC conduct a holistic investigation on the account to enable it establish whether or not the origin of the funds in the affected account was illegal.

“It has to be pointed out that ultimately, it is for the same reason that the grant of interim order becomes necessary, as it explains the necessity for the respondent to have, not only access, but control of the account, by having it frozen, anything else might end up being pyrrhic for the respondent,” Justice Mustapha said.

Other members of the panel – Justices Abubakar Datti Yahaya and Tani Yusuf Hassan – agreed with the lead judgment a copy of which was seen by reporters.

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Government

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Trending