A Nigerian law firm owned by Rickey Tarfa, a senior lawyer facing trial over bribery allegations in Nigeria, has appeared in leaked suspicious activity reports filed with the United States’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Disclosing this, Premium Times unraveled new findings by FinCEN, which flagged some transactions linked to the senior politician as suspicious as it surveilled money movements within the international financial system.
According to the online medium, the SAR filed on Rickey Tarfa & Co showed 427 suspicious wire transfers, totalling $2,261,181.22, to multiple accounts within the space of six months in 2013.
These flagged transfers involving Mr Tarfa’s firm were made through his firm’s EcoBank Nigeria Plc account between May and November 2013.
AFA Press, a UK-based communications agency, received the sum of $4,359.00 into its Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) bank account during this period from Mr Tarfa’s law firm.
“This SAR is being filed because the continuation of activity for a customer of HSBC BANK PLC-LONDON, AFA PRESS LTD, who received one (1) wire transfer totalling $4,359.00 on 5/31/2013 from RICKEY TARFA AND COMPANY, a client of ECOBANK NIGERIA PLC, and who between 05/31/2013 and 11/14/2013 originated 427 wire transfers totalling $2,261,181.22 to multiple counterparties which appeared to be structured. The activity for AFA PRESS LTD and RICKEY TARFA AND COMPANY was reviewed from 05/31/2013 to 11/18/2013,” revealed the SAR.
In 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission accused Tarfa of bribing judges.
In the charge filed at the Lagos State High Court, the anti-graft commission accused the lawyer of bribing two federal judges to the tune of N8.83m over a period of four years.
Court documents filed by EFCC alleged transfer of money in trances of mainly N1.5m and N500,000 from Tarfa’s bank account number 1002926967 with Zenith Bank, to Awa Ajia Nigerian Limited, a company allegedly owned by Justice Nganjiwa Ajiya of the Federal High Court.
An affidavit signed by G.O Adebola, an assistant detective commander, claimed that the lawyer started making the suspicious payments on June 27, 2012 with the sum of N1.5m from his account directly to Mr. Ajiya.
On the same day of the initial payment, Mr Tarfar, allegedly paid another N500,000.00 to Mr Ajiya.
Subsequently payment made to the judge were as follows: N500,000 paid on 6 August, 2013; N1.5m paid on 29 January 2014; N835,000 paid on 3 October 2014; N500,000 paid on 22 December, 2014; N1.5m paid on Awa Ajia Limited’s account number 0000971931 with Access Bank Limited paid on 27 October, 2015, N500,000 paid on 30th December 2015 to Awa Ajia Limited; and N500,000 paid to Awa Ajia 8th January, 2016, N200,000 to Justice Mohammed Yunusa on 30th November, 2015.
Other payments are: N500,000 paid on 15t December, 2015 to Awa Ajia Limited, and another N300,000 paid indirectly to Mr Yunusa, through Awa Ajia Limited.
The anti-graft agency claimed alleged that the monies were meant to subvert the course of justice as they were intended to refrain the judges from acting in the exercise of their official duties and therefore contravenes section 64 (1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No. 11. 2011.