TSTV executives arraigned in courtroom over tax evasion, cash laundering

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The managing director and chief government officer of Telecom Satellite Television, Bright Echefu, and its Executive director, Felix Igboanuga, have been on Thursday, arraigned on a nine-count felony cost earlier than Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja.

The duo have been accused of tax evasion, cash laundering and superior price fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In the cost marked FHC/ABJ/CR/254/2023, Echefu, Igboanuga, TSTV and one other firm, Briechberg Investment Limited, have been listed as the primary to fourth defendants, respectively.

In the cost, Echefu and Igboanuga have been stated to have on May 18, 2020, dedicated cash laundering bordering on tax evasion, unremitted VAT, firm earnings tax and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted from the salaries of 165 employees punishable underneath Section 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

They have been alleged to have on May 18, 2020, diverted to their private use N33. 9m, N13. 5m and N19. 4m tax cash payable to the federal authorities in breach of part 15 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

Bright Echefu, on his half, was stated to have defrauded Turaki Tanimu of N969m underneath false pretence.

Tanimu is a former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and was current in courtroom to witness the arraignment of the defendants.

The fees additional acknowledged that Echefu, whereas appearing because the Managing Director of Briechberg Investment Limited on May 18, 2020, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N150m from Tanimu, who’s the Managing Director of Kalsiyam Farm, as a mortgage to accumulate fashionable gear for his telecom firm.

The cash was stated to have been paid into Briechberg Investment Limited with account quantity 1015561485 domiciled at Zenith Bank.

On the identical day, Echefu was stated to have obtained one other N380m paid into the identical account for a similar goal, whereas one other N400m was additionally allegedly acquired by him on the identical day and for a similar goal from Tanimu who can also be the MD of BYI General and paid into the identical account.

On May 18, 2020, Turaki, whereas appearing as Managing Director of Ok. T Turake made two funds of N15M every into the Briechberg Investment Limited checking account belonging to Dr Bright Echefu for a similar goal.

After the costs have been learn to them, the duo who have been docked pled not responsible to all fees.

The prosecution counsel, Sylvanus Tahir, had informed the courtroom that the matter was for arraignment when it was referred to as upon.

The defence counsel, Eyitayo Fatigun on behalf of the 2 defendants, requested the courtroom to grant his consumer bail.

“In October 2023, we filed for a bail application for the defendants. It is a nine-paragraph affidavit deposed to. The further affidavit was filed on June 5. We plead that your lordship admits the defendants to bail,” he pleaded.

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Tahir, nevertheless, vehemently objected to this. He requested the courtroom to not grant the defendants bail after they pleaded not responsible to the costs most well-liked in opposition to them.

He stated the defendants pose a flight danger and have been evading arrest since June 2023, which was when the costs have been first introduced in opposition to them.

“Following their not responsible plea, the defendants ought to be remanded in jail. They have been evading arraignment since final yr.

“This cost was introduced in opposition to them on June 9, 2023. It will probably be one yr in three days my Lord and we’ve got not been in a position to arraign them.

“We ask for an accelerated hearing,” the prosecution stated.

Justice Ekwo, nevertheless, requested Tahir if the EFCC had beforehand granted the defendant administrative bail which he responded within the affirmative.

In a brief ruling, Justice Ekwo granted the duo bail adopting EFCC’s administrative bail situations as granted to them beforehand.

“What I will do is to allow the terms of the administrative bail you granted them to continue.”

The choose, nevertheless, acknowledged that the defendants usually are not allowed to journey in a foreign country with out the permission of the courtroom whereas immigration have to be notified of the seizure of their worldwide passports.

“The defendants shall not leave or travel out of the jurisdiction of this court without prior knowledge of the court,” Justice Ekwo pronounced.

He warned that any breach of the bail situations or absence in courtroom would robotically result in the revocation of their bail and to stay in custody all through the trial interval.

“If they are absent from court in any of these days I will not hesitate to remove bail and they will remain in confinement till the end of the trial.”

Justice Ekwo directed the EFCC to transmit the file of administrative bail granted to the defendants to the courtroom inside seven days.

He fastened July 15, 16 and 17 for trial.



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