N164bn Judgment Debt: Again, UK Appeal Court Dismisses Akingbola’s Application

 Erastus AkingbolaThe Civil Division of the Court of Appeal in London has again dismissed the application filed by the former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, seeking the leave of the court to appeal the judgment of the High Court of Justice, the Queen’s Bench Division, delivered on July 31, 2012.

The presiding judge of the court, Lord Justice Tomlinson, held that Akingbola’s application for permission to appeal the judgment of the High Court of Justice, London lacked merit.
The High Court of Justice,  presided over by Mr. Justice Burton, had ordered Akingbola to pay Access Bank Plc the sum of N164 billion (£654 million) for some sharp and fraudulent practices committed when he was in charge of the defunct bank.

Justice Tomlinson whose decision was in agreement with the first judgment delivered by Lord Justice Toulson last February, dismissed Akingbola’s application on all the seven grounds canvassed on his behalf by Mr. Paul Chaisty (QC).

The judge held that even though a judge was not insulated from appeal on findings of fact, but that to succeed on appeal, it must however be shown that the judge has erred in his approach to the fact finding exercise.

He, therefore, submitted that Akingbola’s arguments fell short of demonstrating that the trial judge had drawn the wrong inferences from the facts before it.

The judge further stated that the trial judge reached his conclusions on the basis of overwhelming contemporaneous evidence and having due regard to the probabilities.

Lord Justice Tomlinson in concluding his ruling, held that it was far-fetched indeed to suggest that a properly informed bystander would conclude that there had been apparent bias on the part of the judge as alleged by the appellant.

Access Bank Plc had instituted the suit against Akingbola and others for the recovery of the bank’s assets fraudulently converted to personal use.

At the High Court, the court also found the former bank boss liable for supervising an unlawful Share Purchase Scheme that led to the collapse of former Intercontinental Bank.
He held that the former bank boss in fact devised and oversaw the implementation of the strategy to buy the bank’s shares and thereby artificially increase its share price.

The judge stated that before Akingbola commenced the strategy to increase the bank’s share price and in order to benefit from it, he borrowed N9.3 billion and used it to acquire a large quantity of the bank’s shares for himself.

He disclosed that Akingbola’s strategy to buy the shares of the defunct Intercontinental Bank was a “substantial contributing factor to the collapse of the bank.”

The money stolen directly from the bank, was allegedly used by Akingbola during his tenure to buy property in the United Kingdom and pay debts owed by his companies, among other uses.

The judge consequently ordered him to refund to Access Bank, the sum of £654 million for the losses suffered by the bank.

THISDAY checks revealed that with the latest judgment, Akingbola is now left open to enforcement proceedings against his assets in respect of the judgment debt.

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