Home News FG Arraigns Television MD, Others on Tax Evasion, Money-laundering Charges

FG Arraigns Television MD, Others on Tax Evasion, Money-laundering Charges

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The federal government yesterday arraigned the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Telecom Satellites Limited (TSTV), Dr. Bright Ikechukwu Echefu, on charges bordering on tax evasion, money laundering and advanced fee fraud offences.
Besides the MD, others arraigned before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja, include TSTV’s Executive Director, Dr. Felix Nnamdi Ignoanuga, TSTV and another company, Briechberg Investment Limited.

They were arraigned on a 9-count criminal charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Part of the charges are that the two men on May 18, 2020, breached the money laundering law by evading tax, failed to remit VAT, Company Income Tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted from the salaries of 165 workers; an offence punishable under Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

Similarly, the defendants were alleged to have on May 18, 2020, diverted to their personal use the sum of N33. 9 million, N13. 5 million and N19. 4 million tax money payable to the federal government in breach of Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.
Besides, the MD, who is the first defendant was alleged to have defrauded a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Turaki Kabir Tanimu, of the sum of N960 million under false pretences.

The charge indicated that Echefu while acting as the Managing Director of Briechberg Investment Limited on May 18, 2020 with intent to defraud obtained the sum of N150 million from Tanimu who is the Managing Director of Kalsiyam Farm as loan to acquire modern equipment for his telecom company.
The money was said to have been paid into Briechberg Investment Limited account number 1015561485 domicile at Zenith Bank.
On the same day, the 1st defendant was said to have obtained another N380 million paid into the same account for the same purpose while another N400 million was also allegedly secured by Echefu the same day and for the same purpose from Tanimu who is also the MD of BYI General and paid into the same account.

Still on the same May 18, 2020, Turaki SAN, while acting as Managing Director of K. T. Turake made two payments of N15 million each into the Briechberg Investment Limited bank account belonging to Dr. Bright Ikechukwu Echefu for the same purpose.
The defendants however pleaded not guilty to all the 9-count charge, after which their team of lawyers led by Eyitayo Fatigun, SAN, drew the court’s attention to their bail application.

Responding, the EFCC through its lead counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, SAN, vehemently opposed the bail application, claiming that the defendants are flight risk, having allegedly been evading arrest.
But, Fatigun disagreed and insisted that EFCC itself granted them administrative bail.
In a short ruling, Justice Ekwo adopted the EFCC bail conditions to allow the two men go home.
The Judge however ordered them not to travel out of the country without the permission of the court while the immigration must be notified of seizure of their international passports.
He warned that any breach of the bail conditions or absence in court would automatically lead to revocation of their bail.

Justice Ekwo directed the EFCC to transmit the record of administrative bail granted to the defendants to the court within seven days.

Meanwhile, July 15, 16 and 17 have been fixed for commencement of trial.

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