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Two Nigerian-born American businessmen are going to prison after their company facilitated ‘controversial’ remittances of up to $160 million to Nigeria

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  • The businessmen, Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale, pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them by the US Department of Justice.
  • The fintech firm they operated, Ping Express US LLC, facilitated the remittance of $160 million to Nigeria.
  • Some of the funds are said to be proceeds of romance scams.
  • The Founders of Texas-based fintech firm Ping Express US LLC, Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale, have pleaded guilty for failing to combat money laundering on their platform.

A statement by the US Department of Justice explained that the businessmen failed to maintain anti-money laundering controls on their platform; a situation that allowed some of their customers to remit large sums of illegally-derived funds to Nigeria.

“The company outlined its anti-money laundering policy in a memo to state regulators, claiming it would cap first-time customer transactions at $499, cap daily transactions at $3,000, and cap monthly transactions at $4,500. However, in plea papers, the company admitted it allowed more than 1,500 customers to violate these rules. In one instance, Ping allowed a customer to remit more than $80,000 in a single month – more than 17 times the purported limit,” said a part of the statement.

The DoJ further disclosed that the company was guilty of conducting money transmission services in some US states where it was not licensed to operate.

Within a 3-year period, Ping Express US LLC helped customers to remit a total of $167 million to Africa. Out of this sum, $160 million was remitted to Nigeria. And the company was said to have failed to verify the sources of the funds or what they were intended for.

Interestingly, some of the company’s customers have already been tried and found guilty of illegally transmitting funds they earned through romance scams. Two of these three individuals were among the fintech’s top customers. One of the customers, Collins Orogun, pleaded guilty and admitted he accepted fees to help romance scam fraudsters to transfer money from the US to Nigeria through Ping Express US LLC.

“In two years, Mr. Orogun received more than $1.3 million in cash, cashier’s checks, and wires into several U.S. bank accounts he controlled, and then quickly moved more than $1 million of the funds to Africa through Ping. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2023,” part of the statement said.

Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale, who both served as Ping’s CEO and COO, have been sentenced to 27 months in prison. The company’s Head of IT and Business Development Manager, Aleoghena Okhumale, also pleaded guilty to knowingly facilitating illegal remittance of fraudulently derived funds.

Meanwhile the fintech company itself is facing a 5-year probation as well as $500,000 fine.

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INNOSON VEHICLES SUES IMO STATE GOVERNMENT OVER N2.5B DEBT

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Nigeria’s indigenous vehicle manufacturing company, Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing (IVM) has filed an over N2.5B lawsuit against the Imo State Government under the headship of Senator Hope Uzodinma over its failure to pay or service the debt of N2,547,666,435.00 (Two Billion, Five Hundred and Forty-Seven Million, Six Hundred and Sixty-Six Thousand, Four Hundred and Thirty-Five Naira) being the purchase price of the various IVM Vehicles including their parts which IVM manufactured, sold and delivered to the State Government but Imo State Governor or its government has refused and failed to pay same despite repeated demands and appeals.

The lawsuit which was filed by Prof. Joseph N. Mbadugha, SAN, FCPA of McCarthy Mbadugha & Co, the counsel to Innoson Vehicles coming against repeated attempts made by the Chairman of Innoson Vehicles Manufacturing, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma OFR, to the Governor urging him to pay the company on the vehicles sold, and delivered to the State Government.

For the avoidance of doubt, sometimes in April 2021, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma invited the Chairman/CEO of Innoson Vehicles, Chief Dr. Innocent Chukwuma to the Imo State Government House, Owerri where they discussed and agreed that Innoson Vehicles would sell and supply various specifications of its brand of Vehicles to the State Government which includes, inter alia;

1. 70 units of Innoson 5 Seater double cabin pick-up (IVM Carrier) 4WD

2. 10 units of Innoson 5- Seater double cabin military pick up (IVM G12)

3. 10 units of Innoson 5 seater single cabin military pick-up (IVM G12)

4. 100 units of a complete siren with public addressing system, revolving light, and street police light;

5. 2 Units of IVM Ambulance Vehicles

6. 20 Units of IVM G12 MS11

7. 20 sets of B. Canopy

The above vehicles which were valued at over N2.5B ($6.3M) were supplied in good faith to the Imo State Government based on an understanding with the Governor which arose after a special request that Innoson Vehicles grant the State the favor of paying for the vehicles after deliveries to them and which request was granted and honored.

The special and privilege request granted to the Governor turned into a nightmare for Innoson Vehicles and Its Chairman after Chief Chukwuma had at various times through several visits, phone calls, messages, and submission of letters requesting payment appealed to the Governor and his conscience to make total payments or set up a payment plan that will offset the debt.

The inability of the State Government to pay the aforesaid purchase price of the vehicles supplied has resulted in Innoson Vehicles having difficulties in fulfilling its loan repayment obligations to Keystone Bank Limited and Bank of Industry. These Banks granted their credit facilities at the rate of 10% interest and other fees therein. More so, it has led to the loss of profit arising therefrom and the accruing interest.

It is also interesting to note that as of July 27th, 2022, the over N2.5B worth of vehicles supplied to Imo State Government in April 2021 under the leadership of Hope Uzodinma with a dollar value of $6.3M is now worth $3.8M. Even if the money is paid today, the value of the money has depreciated by over 40%.

It is therefore based on this premise that Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Ltd has begun the process of recovering its debts against the Imo State Government by slamming a lawsuit of over N2.5B with an interest rate of 10% on the entirety of the sum claimed at the High Court of Anambra State, Nnewi Division.

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Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi Finds Love Again, to marry Nestoil Executive, Mariam Anako.

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Youthful monarch and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi is giving love a chance again.
This is coming from the details of his alleged dalliance with the Administrative Manager of NestOil, Mariam Anako who is said to have been an item with the monarch for some time.

Mariam Anako

Those in the know claimed the Ooni has done everything possible to keep the relationship secret, judging by his past experiences with Queen Zainab and Queen Silekunola.
A source hinted that the relationship had undergone its first course, with the monarch meeting with the family of his lover in February of this year.
The indication that the Ooni was trying to settle for Mariam as his new wife was strengthened with the renovation of the quarters vacated by the last queen, Naomi, with news spreading round the Palace that a new wife is coming.
The new ‘Olori’ is most likely to move into the palace by August, the source revealed. Further checks also revealed that Mariam Anako is an indigene of Kogi State but grew up in Kwara.
The Ooni after being made king married Queen Zainab Otiti, the marriage didn’t last as she left the Ife Palace.
The Ooni later married an Akure based preacher, Queen Silekunola who bore him a son.
Their marriage for unknown reasons did not also stand the test of time as the queen was ejected from the Palace.
This proposed wedding is the third and the more reason the Youthful monarch who is regarded a ladies man wants to protect at all cost.
Papermacheonline

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Ekweremadu Organ Harvesting Scandal: Ekweremadu’s Wife Granted Bail After One Month in Custody

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Beatrice Ekweremadu, wife of former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, has been granted bail after one month in custody.

Ekweremadu and his wife, who are now on trial for claims of organ harvesting, appeared in London’s Central Criminal Court on Friday, July 22, 2022.

How it all began: In June, the MP and his wife were accused of smuggling a 21-year-old into the UK in order to harvest his kidney for their sick daughter.

In his decision on Friday, Judge Richard Marks granted bail to Ekweremadu’s wife.

The position is that I have granted bail to Beatrice subject to some fairly stringent conditions but I have refused bail to Ike,” the judge was quoted to have said.
In a report released on Monday, July 25, 2022, Foundry Chambers, a law firm identified as representatives for the Ekweremadus stated,“Anu Mohindru Q.C., together with Szilvia Booker, at a hearing on 22/07/22 before the Common Sergeant at the Central Criminal Court secured bail for Beatrice Ekweremadu, the wife of the former Nigerian Deputy Senate leader, Ike Ekweremadu, who is charged together with her husband and Obina Obeta, said to be a middleman in relation to these arrangements with offences of arranging or facilitating the travel of David Nwamini Ukpo with a view to him being exploited, contrary to s.2(1) and 5(1) Modern Slavery Act 2015 and conspiracy to commit such an offence.”

“The essence of the allegation against the defendants is that (using intermediaries) they recruited David Ukpo, a homeless Nigerian male living in Lagos and, on 22nd February 2022, brought him to the UK for the purposes of harvesting a kidney from him to be used for the benefit of their daughter.

“An application for bail on Friday was refused for Ike Ekweremadu but granted for Beatrice on strict conditions to ensure her attendance and obviate any concerns of her being a flight risk ahead of a plea and trial preparation hearing scheduled to take place on 4th August 2022 and a subsequent trial next year.”

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