Alleged €250,000,000 Fraud: Defence Counsel’s Absence Stalls Trial

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday, May 15, 2023, adjourned till June 9, 2023 the trial of the late Tan Ah Chai Richard, a Malaysian, and his company, Coastal Asia Investments Limited, over a €250,000,000.00 fraud, due to the absence of the defence counsel.

Richard and his company were first arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on May 22, 2019 on a five-count charge bordering on forgery, use of false document, conspiracy to forge and an attempt to obtain money by false pretence to the tune of €250,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Million Euros).

He had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thereby prompting commencement of trial, which had seen the prosecution calling a witness.

However, in the course of the trial, Richard reportedly died in prison custody, necessitating the need to amend the charges.

The prosecution had, on January 28, 2022, approached the court with an amended charge.

One of the amended charges reads: “Tan Ah Chai Richard (Deceased), Coastal Asia Investments Limited and Dr. Sawang Jana (still at large), on or about the 27th September, 2018 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, conspired to commit felony, to wit: forgery of Swift Telex Advice dated 27th September, 2018, indicating transfer of the sum of €250,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Million Euros) to Coastal Asia Investments Limited account with Polaris Bank Plc (formerly Skye Bank Plc), from HSBC Bank Plc, London, United Kingdom.”

At the proceedings on January 19, 2023, the defence applied to the court to re-open its case.

However, the application was yet to be served on the prosecution.

At today’s proceedings, there was no defence counsel.

The prosecution counsel, B.M. Isa, informed the court that it was yet to be served the said application.

“We’re yet to set eyes on the application,” he said.

Justice Dada adjourned till the 9th of June 2023 “for possible adoption of final written addresses

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