A Republic of Congo-based businessman, Ani Onyeka, has been ordered to forfeit to the Federal Government the sum of $700,000, which he failed to declare to the Nigeria Customs Service at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos made the order on Thursday in a money laundering lawsuit filed against Onyeka by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The anti-graft agency said the $700,000 was part of a total of $1,909,140 cash, which the businessman laundered.
Onyeka, on Thursday, entered into a plea bargain with the EFCC, pleading guilty to two counts of money laundering slammed against him.
While reviewing the fact of the case, counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the businessman was handed over to the EFCC by the Customs following his arrest on February 23, 2014 with $1.9m at the MMIA.
According to Oyedepo, the businessman, in his statement to the EFCC, claimed that one Ikechukwu Frank gave him the money for onward delivery to one Jude Okoye in Nigeria.
He said men of the Nigeria Customs nabbed him while attempting to deliver the money without going through any financial institution.
According to Oyedepo, Onyeka violated Section 12 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act Cap. F34, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Section 2(5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.
Oyedepo said Onyeka had, however, entered into a plea bargain with the EFCC, tendering the said plea bargain agreement dated December 4, 2017.
The lawyer said the recovered $1.9m was in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria, tendering a letter to that effect.
He urged the court to convict the businessman of money laundering as charged.
Justice Aikawa convicted him accordingly.
He ordered that the forfeited $700,000 should be credited into the Federal Government’s consolidated account while the balance of the $1, 209,140 should be released to the businessman.
“The remaining sum of $1, 209,140 should be released to the defendant through a designated financial institution in strict compliance with the provisions of Section 1 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, as amended.
“The defendant shall within seven days after the payment of the fine imposed by the court, enter into a bond with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission never to be involved in economic and financial crimes within and outside the shores of Nigeria,” the judge held.
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