According to an exclusive report by SaharaReporters, between January 28 and July 18, 2021, some top management staff members of Wema Bank Plc fraudulently moved N1.7 billion to account number 0122367964, domiciled in the financial institution and operated by one Isaac Adewole, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), documents seen by SaharaReporters have revealed.
Some of the Wema Bank staff members fingered in the fraudulent activities are the bank's Executive Director, Wole Akinleye; Head of Cooperate Banking, Emmanuel Edah and Head of Oil and Gas, Kingsley Ananwude.
Multiple sources familiar with the fraud said Adewole, who is also the Managing Director of Shibawells Energy Limited approached the bank in 2018 for a loan to boost his oil trading business using his neighbour’s assets as collateral.
Granting the loan to the pastor, the financial institution opened an account for him where the money was paid.
The account was however used to illegally move N1.7 billion from the bank in 2021 to multiple accounts operated by top staff members and their proxies.
“He used his neighbour’s house for collateral of the loan which was granted to him and promised to return it within six months. But three years after, the man approached him for his house document, that was when he told him of the fraudulent act. He said the bank paid N1.7 billion into the account using different multinational companies like Dana Airlines, Caverton helicopter and two others, one N300 million, one N270 million, one 600 million and like that, it’s only one of the transactions that they didn’t put a name there,” a policeman involved in the case told SaharaReporters.
“Guess what they do after, they now moved that N1.7 billion from Adewole’s accounting into different bank accounts in tranches. Like the one I told you —N600 million, they immediately put it in another account in form of N150 million, 100 million, N100 million, N90 million. The pastor’s account is known as Shibawells Energy Limited. The one for Dana that they moved N160 million to, that was how they did it too, they immediately sent it to another account in smaller units as well.
“So the pastor approached the bank instead of the police. The top management staff involved called him and asked him what he wanted, they now ended with an agreement that the bank would give him an extra loan of N1.5 billion and he agreed. Remember I told you this man is the managing director of Shibawells Energy Limited, a company that does supply aviation fuel. So we realised it was well planned and the names of Dana, Caverton and others were intentionally used to cover up the fraud so people won’t notice. We also realised in our investigation that this money was given to the banks by the CBN and these top officials had to use an account to move it out and use it for something else.
“He has a partner, we called him and realised he wasn’t aware of the transaction. He was shocked, he realised the statement presented to him was forged to hide the fraudulent transaction.”
According to Adewole’s statement of account obtained by SaharaReporters, on January 28 2021, via transaction ID No: M35660, he received the sum of N424,811,000 from Caverton, N160,000,000 from Dana and N630,000,000 from Beam Energy, all with the same transaction number.
On June 18, 2021, via transaction ID No: M104031, the pastor received the sum of N300,000,000 via NIP transfer from an undisclosed account source.
Also on same June 18, 2021, via transaction ID No: M104031, Adewole received the sum of N270,000,000 from Messrs Morrifoil Oil and Gas Ltd., all totalling N1,784,811,000.
When contacted, a source at Dana Air said the airline didn’t do any transaction with Adewole nor his company, Shibawells Energy Limited.
“If I tell you we aren’t aware of this case, then I’m lying, the police some time ago invited us and we were surprised that the company’s name was used for such a fraudulent transaction. It will be wrong for me to share our bank statement with you but such a transaction wasn’t authorised by us,” a source at Dana Air told SaharaReporters.
“We weren’t involved in such a deal, only the bank management can tell you why they use Dana’s name for the transaction. Go to the bank tomorrow and send money to anyone and use Dana as the sender they won’t stop you from doing that. Jokes apart, if we have that kind of amount, my brother, we don’t have any problem.”
A police report exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters also indicted the bank and Adewole.
According to the report signed by the Commander of Area G, Lagos, ACP Ibrahim Zungura, multiple fraudulent transactions were carried out through the account.
“In order to ascertain the legitimacy of these transactions, each of the entities who are on record in the narration in the statement of account was invited for questioning. Each of them denied having made any of the payments attributed to questioning,” part of the report read.
“Each of them denied having made any of the payments attributed to them. Each of them made statements to deny involvement with some writing to us to dissociate themselves from the transactions.
“To determine whether fraud or money laundering has occurred by these established facts, the account officer of Shibahwells in WEMA Bank PLC., one Kingsley Ananwede 'm' was invited and questioned. It was established that he worked in concert with other staff of WEMA Bank who are at large and the MD/CEO of Shibahwells Energy Limited to carry out the fraudulent activities on the accounts.
“This is shown by the facts that the funds deposited were not removed in that order or the sums deposited but carefully removed in different tranches as it is shown on the account statements. For his own part, Mr Adewole refused to cooperate with the investigations but instead, did everything he could, to assist the Bank in covering up, it was decided that the case be referred to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice for Legal Advice.
“The unavoidable conclusion from the findings is that a peculiar form of bank fraud was being carried out through the account. The pattern of fraud is a high-end type carried out from the top people within the bank and those who have helped them from outside. The account holder did not protest the use of his account in the way it was used. He did not cooperate with Police investigation but tried to hinder it. This is the evidence of conclusion. The money in question could only have been money of the bank being moved by those who should protect the property of the bank.”
In January 2022, a group, Transparency Nigeria Group asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to dismiss the Chief Executive Officer of Wema Bank, Ademola Ademise, over alleged fraud.
The group in a statement by Dahiru Mohammed, its Communications Director, alleged that Ademise had grossly abused his office as CEO of the bank and contravened several extant regulations of the CBN.
According to the group, Wema Bank, under Ademise's watch, covered up a massive fraudulent scheme perpetrated by companies and proxies of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu.
Calling for his immediate removal, TNG said, “In doing this, Mr Ademise failed in his fiduciary duties and allowed a powerful politician to use Wema Bank as a clearing house for laundered funds.”
The group referred to a story dated November 23, 2020, by Peoples Gazette where bank records showed that Ocean Trust Limited, a company linked to Tinubu, shuffled billions of naira between its accounts with Wema Bank.
The newspaper documented the transaction between January and June 2019 on how Ocean Trust summarily moved N16.4 billion from its operations accounts into a fixed deposit account all domiciled in Wema Bank.
This was after the court case involving Dayo Apara, a former Managing Director of Alpha Beta, a company partially owned by Tinubu.
Ocean Trust was specifically mentioned in Apara’s court documents as one of the firms allegedly used to siphon funds from Alpha-Beta, the controversial Lagos tax contractor.
According to the report, Alpha Beta has received billions of naira from the Lagos treasury since Tinubu was governor.
Apara claimed the firm received N150 billion in the past 15 years from Lagos.
When contacted for comments and clarifications, the spokesperson for the bank, Funmi Falola said she was in a meeting but promised to get back to our reporter. She also promised to send her email to receive details about the story but failed to do so at the time of filing this report.