Monday, 11 October 2010

Former Oceanic Bank CEO convicted of fraud

The former Oceanic Bank CEO, Cecelia Ibru, has been convicted of fraud and has been sentenced to six months in prison for forfeiting N190 billion (US$1.2 billion) in cash and assets.

Ibru was one of the most prominent senior bank executives who were removed from their posts and were arrested in connection with the 2009 near-collapse of nine Nigerian banks which had to be rescued by the Nigeria Central Bank.

She pleaded guilty to three of 25 counts of fraud and mismanagement and the sentence was the result of a settlement agreement, Judge Dan Abutu, told the court in Lagos on Friday. Her three sentences were for six months each but will now run concurrently so she will only spend only six months in jail.

However she is to be “stripped of a long list of 199 assets and funds worth over N190 billion”, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which brought the case, said in a statement on Friday. The amount recovered is believed to be the highest in Nigerian criminal history. The central bank said that the assets forfeited included 94 properties in Nigeria, the US and Dubai, as well as shares in 100 companies of which 80 are listed in Nigeria and 20 are private.

Ibru belongs to an elite family, which controls massive business interests across Nigeria and she was famous on Nigeria's party circuit for her opulent life style and her taste for corporate jets. Until her arrest, she been considered beyond the reach of the fraud police so the verdict will no doubt shock Nigeria's financial world.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2010 Menas Associates

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