From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A prosecution witness and staff of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), Nwachukwu Amazu, yesterday, revealed how the Senate President, Bukola Saraki made foreign funds transfer of over $3 million while he was governor of Kwara State.
Testifying as a second prosecution witness (PW2) at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Amazu disclosed that Saraki made several transactions, including a transfer of over $73,000 from his dollar account with the GTBank to his foreign account in the American Express Service Europe Ltd.
The banker, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), explained that the purpose of the transfer was to fund a foreign credit card belonging to the American Express Bank and owned by the defendant.
He said Saraki has a domiciliary account, with the GTB in US dollars and in pounds sterling. The domiciliary account is domiciled in Ilorin.
The witness told the tribunal that he worked with the funds transfer unit of the GTB, between 2006 and 2009 before he was transferred and then returned to the unit in 2011, as its head.
He further revealed how the Senate President made other transfers, including the transfer of £761, 904. 76 in February 2010.
Amazu said another sum of £632, 411.7 was transferred for the defendant to Fortis Bank in London.
He revealed several other funds transfers through Saraki’s domiciliary accounts to foreign accounts belonging to the Senate President abroad.
However, when asked to explain the mode of operation of Saraki’s foreign credit card, the witness said he did not know how the card operates.
“I don’t know anything about the card, except I explain with my knowledge of the GTB credit card in the Nigerian perspective,” he said.
However, when cross examined by Paul Usoro (SAN), Counsel to Saraki, the witness said, “I was just asked to read the documents, not that I know anything about them.
“I saw the telexes said to have been used for funds transfer to foreign countries when I came into contact with this case. I have nothing to do with the transfer, I was not the one who conducted the transfer.”
Amazu further told the tribunal he did not see the documents when being processed at the Ilorin branch of the bank, and that he never saw the forms filled by Saraki for the alleged funds transfer.
Pressed further by Usoro, the witness admitted he was not the one that collated the forms and that he did not source for the documents from the Ilorin branch to authenticate the alleged funds transfer.
“I am only concerned about my unit, and I am talking as a staff of the bank and not as one who works at the branch where the alleged funds transfer was carried out in Ilorin.
The witness further told the tribunal that he made his statement to EFCC on September 10, 2015, five days after Saraki had been charged before the tribunal by the federal government.
On Saraki’s relationship with American Express Bank and Fortis Bank of London, the witness informed the Justice Umar Danladi led tribunal that he did not consult with the two banks to know their relationships with Saraki.
He further said he did not know anything about the mortgage serviced by Saraki when he was the governor of Kwara State, adding, “I have never seen the agreement paper or any account opening mandate with Fortis Bank to establish that the defendant maintained a foreign accounts with Fortis Bank of London. I have never seen the fund transfer request forms from the defendant in my unit; the fund transfer unit does not have direct interface with the customer. We do not also interface with beneficiaries of transferred funds.
“I am aware that American Express Services Europe Limited, where Saraki allegedly transferred money to, was not a bank. The E-payment unit of GTB carries out such foreign funds transfer, and I have never worked at the unit. I cannot give evidence on the operation of the American Express Bank, too, because I have not worked there.”
On the alleged fire that gutted the foreign operations unit of the bank in 2011, the witness said he did not say anything on the fire outbreak in his statement to the EFCC because he only answered broad questions put to him during interrogation and the inventory of what the fire consumed was not made available to the tribunal.
Earlier in his evidence in chief, the witness told the tribunal he “never met with Saraki in person until today” and that he had never worked at the Ilorin branch of the GTB.
He told the tribunal that “anytime foreign fund transfer is to be implemented, the account holders are always requested, at the branch where the accounts are domiciled, to fill forms and after filling the forms, they will be handed over to the accounts officers who, in turn, will forward same to the foreign funds transfer unit where transaction will be executed when mandate signature are found to be okay.”
Meanwhile, the tribunal adjourned further cross examination of the witness to today.