Ex-SMEDAN boss Masari faces fresh 22 charges for alleged N119m money laundering

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned Bature Umar Masari, the former Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), on 22 new charges of alleged money laundering and receipt of illegal gratifications totaling N119 million.

The arraignment took place before Justice O.A. Egwuatu at the Federal High Court in Maitama, Abuja. According to an EFCC statement signed by its Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, Masari is specifically accused of laundering N119,507,080 and receiving substantial gratifications.

 

During the court session, prosecution counsel Ekele Iheanacho presented the amended charges, initially dated May 13, 2013, and filed on May 17, 2019. Masari pleaded “not guilty” to all counts.

Count 19 alleges that Masari used N10,000,000 received in his Diamond Bank account from Rahuse Ventures Limited between June 27, 2014, and July 17, 2014, fully aware that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activities.

 

Count 20 involves another N10,000,000 received between July 14, 2014, and July 21, 2014. Both counts cite violations of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011, as amended in 2012.

 

Following Masari’s plea, Iheanacho applied for a trial date, while defense counsel Okechukwu Edeze requested that Masari continue on bail granted by Justice Okong Abang in May 2019.

 

Iheanacho did not oppose the bail continuation but urged the court to confirm the availability of the sureties. Justice Egwuatu allowed Masari to remain on bail under his counsel’s supervision and adjourned the case to July 16, 2024, for trial commencement.

Masari, initially arraigned on April 10, 2019, on a 17-count charge, has faced expanded allegations due to additional evidence brought forward by the EFCC. The charges relate to violations of Section 15(2)(b) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended in 2012.

 

In a separate case, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) arraigned Masari in September 2018 before an FCT High Court in Apo, Abuja. He faced 27 counts related to money laundering and embezzlement, including the fraudulent award of constituency project contracts worth N184.5 million without due process.

 

Additionally, Masari was accused of receiving N50 million from a contractor on November 27, 2014, and distributing part of the sum to others, contravening Section 10 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

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