The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) yesterday evening uncovered about N448,850,000 in a shopping plaza in Lagos.
It said the money was stashed in several Ghana-Must-Go bags were in N500 and N1000 denominations, hidden in a shop awaiting conversion into foreign currency.
But there was likelihood that the cash could be more as officials of the agency were still counting the money stuffed in bags.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said the anti-graft agency suspected that the huge cash was laundered.
It said the money was discovered in a shop at LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The statement said: “Acting on a tip-off by a concerned whistle blower, operatives of the commission swooped on the shopping complex and sought the identity of the owners of two shops, LS 64 and LS 67 which were under lock and key.
“The shops had signages of Bureau de Change. Inquiries about the owner of shop 64 indicated that he had not been seen for a long time, as they claimed the shop had not been opened for businesses for close to two years.
“Several calls were put to the owner of shop 67, but there was no response.
“The attention of the plaza’s chairman and some traders were drawn in order to force the shops open. There was no money found in shop 67, but in shop 64, heaps of Ghana-Must-Go bags were found loaded on the floor of the shop.
“When the bags were unzipped, they were found to contain bundles of naira notes totaling N448,850,000.
“Traders interviewed at the premises claimed they were not aware that such money was housed inside the shop, as the place hardly opens for business.
“The commission is investigating the matter in order to unravel the owner and source of the money.”
Meanwhile, the commission yesterday arraigned one Suzan Vega Ochuko before Justice P.I. Ajoku of the Federal High Court sitting in Benin, Edo State on a three-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining 132,000 Euros by false pretence.
The defendant and one Tony Uyimwen aka Alex Ethan (now at large) allegedly operating with a pseudo name Alex Ethan contacted one Mrs. Beatrice AUF DER MAUR from St. Gallen, Switzerland via Facebook and defrauded her of One Hundred and Thirty-Two Thousand Euro.
A separate statement by Mr. Uwujaren said the victim ( Mrs Auf Der Maur ) was allegedly hoodwinked into a love relationship with the defendant who subsequently defrauded her of the said amount under the pretence of executing a non existing contract.
The statement said: “The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge.
“One of the Counts reads: that you Suzan Vega Ochuko ‘F’ and Tony Uyimwen ‘M’ (a.k.a) Alex Ethan (now at large) on or about the 11th of March, 2016 at Benin, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud when you made a false representation that you are Alex Ethan to one Mrs. Beatrice AUF DER MAUR and obtained the sum of 65, 000.00 (Euro), account number: 2024290579 of one Collins Peter which pretext you knew was false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1 (3) of the said Act.
“Another count reads: that you Suzan Vega Ochuko ‘F’ and Tony Uyimwen ‘M’ (a.k.a) Alex Ethan (now at large) on or about the 18th of March, 2016 at Benin, Edo State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud did obtain the sum of 67, 000.00 (Euro) under false pretence from one Mrs. Beatrice AUF DER MAUR account number: 2022547286 which pretext you knew was false and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under section 1 (3) of the said Act.
“In view of her plea, the prosecution counsel M.T. Iko asked the court to fix a date for commencement of trial.
“The defence counsel, Ekhator Ogiegbaen told the court that he had filed an bail application for his client. He pleaded with the court to grant his client bail as she will not jump bail and that the defendant was a nursing mother.
“Though the prosecution counsel opposed the bail, Justice Ajoku granted the defendant bail in the sum of One Million Naira with two sureties in like sum.
“The sureties must be civil servant not below grade level 12 or two sureties with landed property within the jurisdiction of the court..
“The sureties must deposit original title of their document with the court while the civil servant must produce an official letter from his superior from his office. The documents are to be verified by the prosecution.
“The matter was adjourned to the 14th of June, 2017 for trial while the defendant is to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of her bail.”
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