Fraud: Enugu High Court awards N225 million against Sterling Bank

An Enugu State High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Chinyere Ani (PHD), has
awarded the sum of N225, Million Naira to Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited,
Enugu against Sterling Bank Plc.

The Sterling manager at its’ Market Road branch Enugu, Mr. Oliver Anidiobi, defrauded Ohha Microfinace bank of the sum of N219,
million Naira by issuing Ohha Microfinance Bank fake “Fixed Deposit Certificates.”

Oliver Chukwuka, was the branch manager of Sterling Bank Plc, 2, Market Road, Enugu, when he stole and converted to personal use the sum of N219 Million Naira depositors funds which Ohha Microfinance
Bank Limited Enugu, kept in a fixed Deposit account with Sterling Bank Plc, its’ corresponding bank.

The bank manager has long been remanded in prison custody for fraud.

The Plaintiff Ohha Microfinance Bank had through its’ lawyer Olu Omotayo Esq.
filed a suit against Sterling Bank Plc on 3rd October, 2019, in Suit No.E/857/2019, OHHA MICROFINANCE BANK V. STERLING BANK PLC, and claimed against the Defendant N 600,000,000.00 (Six Hundred Million
Naira) representing damages for breach of contract. N300,000,000.00 , of which represents N 138,900, 838.89 for the first fixed deposit and also the accumulated interest thereon and also N 80,134,062.61, for the second fixed deposit and also the
accumulated interest on it.

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In response the defendant in the case, Sterling Bank Plc argued through his lawyer
O.J. Uchenna Esq. that it was not bound by the acts of Oliver Anidiobi its’ manager
and denied having any of the Fixed deposits of the plaintiff on its’ record and that
its’ manager Oliver Anidiobi lacked authority to act for it in that regard.

The Court in over one hour Judgment delivered by Hon. Justice Ani agreed with
the submission of Olu Omotayo Esq. that the Fixed deposits certificates given to
Ohha Microfinance Bank by the defendant were authentic because Oliver Anidiobi was the manager of the defendants’ Market road branch at the time and his act as an agent of Sterling Bank Plc is binding on the bank.

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The Court further held that in the statement of Oliver Anidiobi to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) which was admitted in evidence in this
suit, Oliver Anidiobi admitted collecting the sum of N219 million Naira from Ohha
Bank, which he diverted to personal use and issued certificates he forged to the
Microfinance bank.

The Court held that Oliver Anidiobi as the bank manager of Sterling bank at that material time acted on behalf of the defendant in the course of normal transaction of the bank.

The Court further held that the issue to be considered is whether Sterling Bank as the principal is liable for the fraudulent act of the agent (Oliver Anidiobi).

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The Court held that Oliver Anidiobi a branch manager of the bank has full authority to deal with customers and that the transaction is lawful and Oliver Anidiobi acted within the course of his work and the
Plaintiff trusted him and rely on him as the bank manager of the defendant.

There will be chaos in the system if customers cannot rely on representation of a bank manager in the course of banking
transactions.

The Court therefore awarded the sum of N225million Naira as damages to
the Plaintiff, Ohha Microfinance Bank Limited.

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