By G9ija

Two Bureau de Change (BDC) operators who allegedly laundered $1.6million said to be proceeds of smuggling, were yesterday brought before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court.

Chris Ogbonna and Sulaiman Jibbo, alongside two firms – Kur and Sule Nigeria Enterprises; and Sunchrist Trans Nigeria Ltd – were arraigned for the alleged offence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They are standing trial on a five-count charge before Justice Ayokunle Faji.

The EFCC told the judge that the defendants ought to have reasonably known that the $1.6m, which they allegedly removed from jurisdiction sometime in 2017, “formed parts of proceeds of unlawful activity, to wit: smuggling.”

Ogbonna and Sunchrist Trans Nigeria Ltd were also accused of transferring a total of N607.2m, being proceeds of smuggling, to Kur and Sule Enterprises.

Jibbo, on his part, was accused of making a cash payment of $52,287 to one Fredrick, “which sum exceeded the amount authorised by law.”

The anti-graft agency’s counsel, Kufre Uduak, said the defendants violated sections 18(c), 15(2), 1(a), and 16(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 which was punishable under sections 15(3) and 16(2)(b) of the same law.

Each defendant pleaded not guilty, following which their counsel, Chuks Nwana, applied for bail.

Justice Faji upheld his prayer and granted each defendant N10million bail with two sureties in the like sum.

Among, other conditions, the judge barred the defendants from travelling outside the country, with an order that the EFCC should notify the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) about them.

The judge gave them 10 days to meet the bail conditions, failing which they would be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.

He adjourned till July 10 for report of compliance with the bail conditions.

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