Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Alleged Fraud: Court Grants Saipem MD, One Other N500m Bail

Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has granted bail to the Managing Director (MD) Saipem Contracting, Walter Peviana and former employee, Kelechi Chinakwe to the tune of N500 million over Saipem’s $130million power plant contract dispute with the Rivers state government.

The court had January 11 remanded the duo in the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre on allegations of conspiracy to defraud the Rivers State Government of $130 million in the failed contract agreement.

Justice Gbasam at Tuesday’s resumed hearing for their bail consideration, had granted bail to both defendants in the case filed by the Rivers State Government in suit number PHC/3106/CR/2021.

Sometime in November 2021, the Hon Attorney General of Rivers State had filed information against the defendants alleging various offences arising from the OGCT Power contract between Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Nigeria (also known as AFAM 2) charging the defendants with various offences bordering on conspiracy and fraud.

When the defendants were eventually arraigned on 11 January 2022 the MD Walter Peviani and Kelechi Chinakwe who appeared in Court following service on them of the Information, were remanded in custody by the trial judge.

The Attorney-General of Rivers State granted a fiat to Chief Godwin Obla SAN who is the prosecuting counsel.

Odein Ajumogobia SAN and Patrick Osu, representing Saipem SPA Saipem Contracting Nigeria appeared with Akinola Akinyanju and Shekinah Wokoma to present the bail application on behalf of the MD of Saipem Contracting charged as the 2nd defendant while Cosmos Eweluzo SAN with Abayomi Akinwole represented Mr Chinakwe, seeking his bail.

After taking their pleas, the Court today heard and granted their respective applications for bail pending trial, the tune of N500million each with two sureties in like sum with landed property with C of O in Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of the Court, one of whom must be the minimum of a mid-level employee of Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited

The trial of the defendants including those to be tried in absentia is to commence on 2 February 2022.

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