The 250Million Euros fraud trial involving a Malaysian, Tan Ah Chai Richard (now late), and his company, Coastal Asia Investments Limited, before Justice Mojisola Dada of a Lagos Special Offences Court, sitting in Ikeja, continued today after being stalled for days due to the absence of the Defence Counsel.
The absence of the Defence Counsel stalled the trial on May 15, 2023.
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 call 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 had applied to the court to reopen its case, but the application was yet to be served on the prosecution.
After that, the absence of the defence counsel, A. Onifade stalled the progress of the case.
At today’s proceeding, Onifade finally moved the application of the defence seeking to open its case.
Counsel for the prosecution, R.A. Abdulrasheed raised no objection, and he informed the court that the witness of the prosecution on whom a subpoena was issued, was also in court.
The application of the defence was graciously granted by Justice Dada.
Thereafter, Onifade cross-examined the witness, John Yamah, an investigative officer of the EFCC who investigated the alleged crime.
Under cross-examination, the defence through the witness tendered in evidence the international passport of the late Richard, and it was admitted as exhibit by the court.
Onifade further asked the witness about “a search note filled by him”.
“I am not aware that a search was conducted on his residence,” the witness replied.
Thereafter, Onifade informed the court that it was closing its case.
“That is the case of the defence,” he said.
Justice Dada has adjourned till September 22, 2023 “for adoption of final written address”.