BY JOSEPH UNDU, Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos before Justice Akintayo Aluko on the 17th of January, 2023 issued a warrant for the arrest and extradition of three foreign nationals, namely Prem Garg, Devashish Garg and Marcus Wade to enable them stand trial in Nigeria over allegation of fraud amounting to US$ 42,485,900.00 (Forty-Two Million Four Hundred and Eighty-Five thousand Nine Hundred Dollars) against a Nigerian Bank.
The trio are accused of fraud by Ecobank Nigeria, in a petition to the Department of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, that the Company (Agrico Agbe Limited and Wilben Trade Limited, Dubai) had requested for a loan facility from them for the importation of Rice in 2015.
According to documents obtained by this Newspaper, the bank opened letters of credit in the sum of USD 42,485,900.00 in favour of Wilben Trade Limited, Dubai for importation of rice.
The bank alleged that the Company had requested for an Import Finance Facility loan (IFF) for the importation of India Parboiled rice to Nigeria which was granted by the bank. The facility was to be repaid primarily from the proceeds of the sale realized from the imported products and other revenues realized from the business in accordance with the agreement.
The Attorney General of the Federation has in consideration of a police (INTERPOL NCB) investigation report indicted Wilben Trade Limited Dubai, Marcus Wade and 3 others in a five counts charge for conspiracy, obtaining by false pretense, cheating and criminal conversion in charge number FHC/L//562C/2022, dated 7th October, 2022, before the Federal High Court, Lagos, Counts 1 and 4 are produced below thus:
COUNT 1: “That you, Prem Garg, Devashish Garg both of Indian nationality, Agrico Agbe Ltd. (a company registered in Nigeria), Wilben Trade Limited, Dubai (a company registered in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai), Marcus Wade (Chairman of Wilben Trade Ltd, Dubai) of British nationality, sometime in the month of May and September, 2015 at Eco Bank Plc. Lagos within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired between yourselves to commit an offence thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 422 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
COUNT 4: “That you, Prem Garg, Devashish Garg both of Indian nationality, Agrico Agbe Ltd. (a company registered in Nigeria), Wilben Trade Limited, Dubai (a company registered in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai), Marcus Wade (Chairman of Wilben Trade Ltd, Dubai) of British nationality, sometime in the month of May and September, 2015 at Eco Bank Plc. Lagos within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired between yourselves to commit an offence to wit: Cheating in that you caused Eco Bank Plc to deliver monies to the tune of US$42,485,900.00 (forty-Two Million, Four Hundred and Eight Five Thousand, Nine Hundred US Dollars) which was intended by contract for the purchase and import into Nigeria India Parboiled rice but never utilized the sum of money for the contract and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 421 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap, C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
Having heard a motion for the issuance of warrant of arrest in first instance moved by the prosecuting counsel (Pius Ukeyima Akutah Assistant Director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice with A.S. Bello, the Presiding Judge Hon. Justice Akintayo Aluko considered it deserving and granted the warrants for the arrest of Marcus Wade, Prem Garg and Devashish Garg with the view to. and for the purpose of their extradition to enable them stand trial in Nigeria.
From the information available to our Correspondent, Wilben Trade Limited Dubai and its founder conspired, aided and abetted the fraud against Ecobank Nigeria when it willfully and deliberately communicated to the Bank that the commodities (Indian Parboiled Rice) for which the letter of credit was established have being supplied and shipped to Nigeria while knowing or having reason to know that there was no such commodity shipped to Nigeria.
Furthermore, Marcus Wade caused a mail to be forwarded to Ecobank Nigeria to honor its credit to tune of $20M on a Standby Letter of credit knowing fully well that no commodity was on transit to Nigeria to the benefit of Ecobank Nigeria from Prem Garg and the trio.
We were also informed that investigation was extended to the Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc, Nigerian Shippers Council and Nigerian Port Authority to verify the purported shipping documents forwarded by Wilben Trade Limited Dubai and Marcus Wade to perpetrate the fraud scheme against Ecobank Nigeria Plc. It was confirmed that the listed vessels did not berth in any Nigerian Port within the period in view, and all the documents were unverified as genuine for rice importation into Nigeria.
It is also reliably gathered that while Devashish Garg and his son Prem Garg, both of Indian nationality are still at large, their company, Agrico Agbe Limited is located at KM 16 Ikorodu Shagamu Road, Ewe, Junction, Ogun state Nigeria.
Whereas Marcus Wade, a British citizen and his company Wilben Trade Limited, Dubai are at Level 41, Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Attorney General of the Federation is fully prepared to ensure that the perpetrators of this fraud should face the wrath of the Nigerian law and is working with relevant local and International law enforcement Agencies and partners to ensure that they are repatriated to Nigeria to face their trial.