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Briton asks court to quash $8.8m fraud charge against him

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A BRITISH chartered accountant, Deepak Khilnani, has asked a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja to quash the $8.8 million alleged fraud charge preferred against him by the state for lack of jurisdiction.

Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution had instituted a suit against Khilnani and his accomplice, Dr. Sushil Chandra over allegations bordering on conspiracy, cheating, stealing and false representation.

The suspect through his counsel, Kayode Ajekigbe filed a notice of preliminary objection before the presiding judge, Justice Atinuke Ipaye.

The DPP had charged them for allegedly defrauding his Nigerian partner, Green Fuels Limited to the tune of $8.8 million in 2008.

The suspects were also alleged to have made false statements to the Corporate Affairs Commission in order to facilitate the fraud.

According to prosecution, “they fraudulently tricked Green Fuels Limited to pay greater sum for machinery purchased from Gentec Limited than it would have paid for such machinery.”

At the last adjourned date, Justice Ipaye had fixed August 12, 2015 for their arraignment following the failure of their counsel to produce them in court on July 31.

When the matter was called yesterday, lead prosecution counsel, DPP, Mrs. Idowu Alakija told the court of they wanted to amend the proof of evidence by substitution.

She further informed the court that the prosecution had received information from the Police that they had carried out further investigation on the matter, which might be useful to the case.

Alakija therefore confirmed that the defendant’s notice of preliminary objection was served on the prosecution on August 11,2015 and prayed the court for an adjournment to respond to the application.

Ajekigbe in his response informed the court that he had filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the charge.

He said: “The information dated April 30 has breached a cardinal rule of drafting charges in that the charges do not contain the essential ingredients of the offences charged.

“The proofs of evidence filed by the prosecution do not disclose the offences alleged against the applicants in counts 2, 3 and 4 of the criminal charge.

“The initiation of the Information by the Office of the Attorney-General of Lagos State was done without regard to public interest, interest of justice and the need to prevent abuse of legal process.”

He argued that the charge constitutes an abuse of the process of the court because it attempts to criminalise a matter bordering on contractual arrangement.

Ajekigbe further submitted that the charge was fundamentally defective in the sense that the alleged offences contained therein were charged under a repealed and non-existent law.

On the failure of the accused persons to appear in court, he argued that there was nothing in the judicial law that made it mandatory for them to be in court for the hearing of the application.

After listening to their arguments, Justice Ipaye subsequently adjourned the matter till November 10, 2015 for hearing of the application.



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