Detained banks’ chiefs, yesterday, alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC’s operatives were asking them to bargain for their freedom with their shares in the five troubled banks.
They were said to have disclosed this latest development to their counsel, saying “this is part of plea- argain deals put forward by the anti-graft commission to secure the co-operation of the directors towards paying off their alleged debt. We were asked to surrender the shares in writing as a means of paying off our alleged indebtedness on one hand and receiving a “soft landing” from the commission on the other.”
But in a swift reaction, spokesman for EFCC, Femi Babafemi denied the allegation, describing it as a blackmail to which the agency won’t succumb.
The full text of the message reads; “The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has been drawn to an allegation making the rounds that the anti-graft agency has asked some detained bank directors to surrender their shares in their banks in exchange for their freedom.
“The Commission wishes to state that there is no iota of truth in this allegation. It is a known fact that once an accused has been arraigned in court, it is solely the discretion of the court to grant such person bail.
“As such, the fate of all the bank executives that had been arraigned in court for criminal charges lies in the court and the Commission has no control over them other than ensuring diligent prosecution of the case.
“The attempt to blackmail the EFCC with a weak and spurious allegation will bring no gain for those behind it neither will it in any way stop the Commission from going ahead with the trial which has already begun.”
However, the EFCC had placed difficult bail conditions on the way of the bank directors, making it impossible for them to get bail before they were arraigned last Monday.
According to a very influential director involved, all of the directors of Intercontinental Bank both individually and collectively rejected the plea-bargain arrangement and refused to surrender their shares due to the implications.