Supreme Court affirms conviction of ex-CEO of defunct Bank PHB, Atuche

After 13 years of back and forth, the Supreme Court, this Friday morning, confirmed the former Managing Director of the now-defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche’s conviction.

Justice Moore Adumein, in a unanimous judgment, stated that Atuche did not challenge the trial court and the Court of Appeal’s assessment of his credibility.

The court, based on its past rulings, emphasized that if a trial court’s assessment of a party or witness aligns with the presented documentary evidence, an appellate court should not interfere with that decision.

Ultimately, the court found no grounds to overturn the lower courts’ decisions.

DAILY POST recalls that in 2011, Atuche, along with his wife Elizabeth and Ugo Anyanwu, faced charges from the EFCC before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Lagos High Court, with representation from Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Kemi Pinheiro on behalf of the EFCC.

The trio faced charges related to a N25.7 billion fraud, with Justice Okunnu delivering a lengthy 12-hour judgment on June 16, 2021.

Atuche and former Chief Financial Officer Ugo Anyanwu were found guilty on 21 of the 27 counts of conspiracy to commit a felony and stealing by the EFCC.

Justice Okunnu ruled that the EFCC had convincingly proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Atuche received a 12-year sentence, and Anyanwu 10 years initially, which was later reduced by the Court of Appeal to six years for Atuche and eight years for Anyanwu.

Elizabeth Atuche was acquitted as the EFCC couldn’t establish her involvement in the crime.

The court stressed that suspicion alone cannot substitute for concrete evidence.

It wasn’t demonstrated that she knew the source of the funds in her account from her husband or had authority over the transactions.

The convicts were set to serve their prison terms at the Kirikiri Maximum Correctional Facility in Lagos.

After appealing the judgment, the Court of Appeal confirmed the convictions on June 23, 2022.

The appellate court clarified that Atuche’s sentence was reduced to six years concurrently, not 12 years, while Anyanwu’s term was decreased from 10 to eight years.

The Supreme Court, earlier this year, heard arguments from Senior Advocates of Nigeria in Mr Atuche’s appeal against his conviction.

The court’s unanimous decision this morning marks the conclusion of this legal battle that spanned over thirteen years.

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