A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit by oil and gas services firm, Marine Assets and Offshore Equipment Limited and its General Manager, Olusegun Olaleye, seeking to stop their investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Bolaji Olajuwon in a judgment on Tuesday held that there was no merit in the case that sought to restrain the EFCC from investigating the payment of huge sums into the plaintiffs’ bank account by some firms for unknown reasons.
Justice Olajuwon disagreed with lawyer to the plaintiffs, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) that the investigation of the plaintiffs’ activities by the EFCC amounted to harassment and ultra vires its (EFCC’s) powers.
The judge agreed with lawyer to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanachor that allegations of economic and financial crimes were established against the plaintiffs and others, which required the activation of the powers of the EFCC to conduct investigation on their activities.
She added that contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, the EFCC could investigate tax evasion within its powers to investigate economic and financial crimes.
Justice Olajuwon rejected all the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1529/2020 and dismissed it for being unmeritorious.
The EFCC had claimed to be investigating them and other for conspiracy money laundering and stealing in relation to about $38,198,624.08 paid into Marine Assets’ accounts within four months.
It stated that on January 25, 2019 it received intelligence “bordering on monumental case of conspiracy, money laundering and stealing against the 1st plaintiff (Marine Assets), its alter ego and some other associated companies and individuals.
“The intelligence reveals that the 1st plaintiff, its directors alongside other companies like Airsafe Aviation Global Limited, used multiple accounts to move funds in and out of Nigeria to the tune of $38,198,624.08 between September 2017 and December, 2018 without clear underlying/legitimate business transaction.
“On receipt of the intelligence, the defendant commenced investigation by writing to relevant commercial banks, the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) amongst other agencies of government, interviewed some individuals and companies whose names featured in the investigation (including the 1st plaintiff through its General Manager, Operations).
“Preliminary investigation revealed amongst other findings, that both 1st plaintiff and Airsafe Aviation Global Limited were incorporated by the CAC in 2018 with the names of Messrs. Chukwunwike ChuksMacjulie and Money Sheyi Godfrey as the directors and shareholders.
“There is no record of any business done by the 1st plaintiff and Airsafe Aviation Global Limited since incorporation.
“Between March, 2018 and April, 2019, one Jokai Global Services Limited transferred to accounts of the 1st plaintiff the sums of US$ 89,716, 591.37 and N18, 555, 337, 336, 86.
“Between March 2018 and April, 2019, the same Jokai Global Services Limited transferred into the account of Airsafe Aviation Global Limited the sums of US$13,041, 641.35 and N1,489, 401, 426. 65.
“The transactions referred to above, which generated these funds were vague and obscure. None of these companies mentioned above as well as others that featured in the intelligence declared their activities by way of filing financial statements, annual reports to regulatory authorities like the FIRS, CAC, etc. ,
“These companies never paid taxes despite the humongous payments they received into their accounts.
“The high volume of funds received into the accounts of the 1st plaintiff shortly after its incorporation necessitated the need to even inquire into its tax records with a view to determine the lawfulness or otherwise of the financial activities of the 1st plaintiff. “