EFCC Arraigns TSTV Executives on Charges of Money Laundering

Amanda Daily
3 Min Read
EFCC Arraigns TSTV Executives on Charges of Money Laundering

On Thursday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned two top executives of Telecom Satellites Limited (TSTV) before the Federal High Court in Abuja. Dr. Bright Ikechukwu Echefu, Managing Director and CEO of TSTV, and Dr. Felix Nnamdi Ignoanuga, Executive Director of the company, face charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and advanced fee fraud.

The defendants, along with TSTV and Briechberg Investment Limited, were arraigned on a nine-count criminal charge.

Specific Allegations

The charges include accusations of money laundering connected to tax evasion, unremitted VAT, company income tax, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deductions from the salaries of 165 employees. These actions contravene Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended in 2012.

On May 18, 2020, the defendants allegedly misappropriated N33.9 million, N13.5 million, and N19.4 million meant for tax payments for personal use, violating Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

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Dr. Bright Ikechukwu Echefu, the first defendant, is also accused of defrauding Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Turaki Kabir Tanimu of N960 million under false pretenses. Acting as the Managing Director of Briechberg Investment Limited, Echefu allegedly obtained N150 million from Tanimu, the Managing Director of Kalsiyam Farm, as a loan to acquire modern equipment for his telecom company. The funds were deposited into Briechberg Investment Limited’s account at Zenith Bank.

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On the same day, Echefu purportedly secured additional payments of N380 million and N400 million from Tanimu, who is also the MD of BYI General, for the same purpose. Two more payments of N15 million each were allegedly made by Tanimu into the same account.

Court Proceedings

Turaki Kabir Tanimu, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was present in court during the arraignment. The defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Sylvanus Tahir (SAN), leading the prosecution team, opposed the bail application made by Eyitayo Fatigun (SAN) on behalf of the defendants, arguing that they are flight risks. However, Fatigun countered that the EFCC had previously granted them administrative bail.

Justice Inyang Ekwo upheld the EFCC’s bail conditions, allowing the defendants to return home. The judge ordered that they must not leave the country without court permission, and their international passports must be seized. Any violation of these conditions or failure to appear in court will result in the revocation of their bail and detention throughout the trial.

The EFCC was instructed to submit the record of administrative bail granted to the defendants to the court within seven days. The trial is scheduled to begin on July 15, 16, and 17, 2024.

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