The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other United States federal agents have arrested 24 individuals, among them Nigerians, for their involvement in a large-scale fraud and money laundering operation that targeted citizens, corporations, and financial institutions throughout the United States.
Two of the Nigerians, Afeez Olaide Adeniran and Blessing Ojo, face a separate charge of wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Adeniran defrauded a homebuyer of $40,000 intended for a real estate transaction.
“The indictment alleges that due to a computer intrusion and false invoicing scam, Ojo caused a media company in California to send payments totalling $89,140 to a bank account controlled by one of the defendants. In total, the victim sent $646,840, as a result of the fraud”.
Using business email compromise schemes, romance fraud scams, and retirement account scams, among other frauds, the suspects duped numerous victims into losing more than $30million, the Department of Justice, Northern District of Georgia announced, last Friday.
The arrests followed a similar crackdown by FBI on scores of Nigerian fraudsters in California and some other parts of the US, last August.
“Fraud schemes, like the ones perpetrated and facilitated by these defendants, inflict considerable losses on citizens, companies, and the financial system,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said.
“Some of these schemes target the elderly and often deplete the victims’ entire life savings. These arrests affirm the Department of Justice’s commitment to prosecuting those who prey on our most vulnerable citizens.
“The FBI would like to thank our numerous federal, state and local law enforcement partners who helped make these arrests possible,” Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, Chris Hacker, said.
“There is no way we can make the victims of these schemes, many who have lost their life savings, whole again. Hopefully the arrests and pending prosecutions will at least give them solace that someone is being held accountable for their losses.”
According to Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court indicate that, “The defendants served as money launderers for other individuals throughout the world who conducted cyber-enabled fraud, including business email compromise schemes, romance scams, and retirement account scams, targeted at companies and individuals across the United States.
“The defendants and co-conspirators facilitated BEC schemes, romance scams, and retirement account scams by receiving and distributing fraudulent funds throughout the United States and the world.
“Over the course of the conspiracy, the defendants and their co-conspirators laundered over $30million in fraud proceeds.
“The defendants created multiple sham companies that did not have physical premises, earn legitimate income, or pay wages to employees. In turn, the defendants opened business bank accounts at multiple financial institutions to facilitate receipt of the fraudulent money.
“The defendants also opened personal bank accounts to receive fraudulent funds, often using false identities and victims’ identities. After funds were deposited into the defendants’ bank accounts, the money was quickly withdrawn from the accounts and circulated among the defendants.
“The following individuals have been charged with money laundering conspiracy: Darius Sowah Okang, a.k.a Michael J. Casey, a.k.a Richard Resser, a.k.a Thomas Vaden, a.k.a Michael Lawson, a.k.a Matthew Reddington, a.k.a Michael Little, 29, of Stone Mountain, Georgia; Dominique Raquel Golden, a.k.a Desire Tamakloe, a.k.a Mellissa Moore, a.k.a Nicole Nolay, a.k.a Raquel Roberts, a.k.a Maria Henderson, a.k.a Raquel Golden, 29, of Houston, Texas; Blessing Oluwatimilehin Ojo, a.k.a “Timmy,” 34, of Nigeria; George Kodjo Edem Adatsi, 36, of Atlanta, Georgia; Desire Elorm Tamakloe, a.k.a “Chubby,” 25, of Smyrna, Georgia; and Solomon Agyapong, a.k.a “Gumpe,” 31, of Marietta, Georgia.
“Others include, Afeez Olaide Adeniran, a.k.a “Ola,” 31, of Atlanta, Georgia; Francesco Benjamin, a.k.a “B-More,” 30, of Atlanta, Georgia; Jonathan Kojo Agbemafle, a.k.a “Skinny,” 26, of Kansas City, Missouri; Joshua Roberts, a.k.a “Onyx,” 28, of Houston, Texas; Hamza Abdallah, a.k.a Reggie Lewis, 30, of McDonough, Georgia; Prince Sheriff Okai, 26, of Mableton, Georgia; Kelvin Prince Boateng, 24, of Atlanta, Georgia; Monique Wheeler, 29, of Atlanta, Georgia; Matthan Bolaji Ibidapo, a.k.a “B.J.,” 27, of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Stephen Abbu Jenkins, a.k.a “Face,” a.k.a Steven Abbu Jenkins, Steven Jenkins, Steve Jenkins, 53, of Atlanta, Georgia; Kahlia Andrea Siddiqui, 28, of Chamblee, Georgia; Alexus Ciera Johnson, 26, of Mableton, Georgia; Abubakar Sadik Ibrahim, 26, of Mableton, Georgia; Emanuela Joe Joseph, 34, of Lawrenceville, Georgia; Obinna Nwosu, 26, of Douglasville, Georgia; Ojebe Obewu Ojebe, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia; and Gregory Thomas Hudson, 38, of Powder Springs, Georgia.
UBA Appoints Bawuah As First Female CEO For Africa Operations …Announces Six Other Executive Appointments …As Oni Retires From Group Board
The Board of Directors of the United Bank for Africa Plc, Africa’s Global Bank, has today, announced the appointment of Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UBA Africa.
Bawuah will also join the Group Board as an Executive Director, overseeing the Group’s operations across the African continent, outside Nigeria.
UBA operates in 19 African countries beyond Nigeria, in addition to global operations in New York, London, Paris and the UAE.
Bawuah, a Ghanaian national, is the first female CEO of UBA Africa.
Her appointment further demonstrates UBA’s commitment to diversity.
The UBA Group Board now includes eight female Directors.
Prior to her appointment, Bawuah was Regional CEO, West Africa, supervising the Group’s operations in nine subsidiaries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
She previously held the role of CEO, UBA Ghana.
Speaking on the new appointment, the Group Board Chairman Mr Tony O. Elumelu said, “Abiola has contributed significantly to the growth of UBA Africa for close to a decade.
She brings a wealth of experience in commercial banking, and stakeholder engagement.
It also gives me great pleasure that with her appointment, the UBA Group Board has now become a majority female board.”
The UBA Group also announced the following executive roles:
Chris Ofikulu becomes the Regional CEO, UBA West Africa.
Ofikulu, who has over two decades of banking experience spanning corporate, commercial, and retail banking.
Uzoechina Molokwu will take on the role as Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of UBA Ghana, subject to local regulatory approvals.
He was previously the Executive Director, Business Development – UBA Côte d’Ivoire and has over 23 years banking experience.
Ayokunle Olajubu will be the Managing Director/CEO UBA Liberia, subject to local regulatory approvals.
He currently drives compliance across Africa subsidiaries andcomes with 30 years banking experience in Nigeria and other African countries,including Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire and the Gambia.
Theresa Henshaw has been appointed as CEO of UBA UK, subject to local regulatoryapprovals.
She was previously the DMD, Business Development, UBA America and joined the Group as ED, Business Development at UBA UK.
Usman Isiaka, currently CEO, UBA Sierra Leone, will be the Deputy CEO in UBA America, subject to local regulatory approvals.
Adeyemi Adeleke, the former CEO of UBA, UK is now the Group Treasurer.
Adeleke will be working to unlock the immense value in the Group’s multi-jurisdictional balance sheet, leveraging on its presence in 24 countries within and beyond Africa.
In addition to the executive appointments, UBA has announced the retirement of High Chief Samuel Oni, an independent non-executive Director, from the Board following the expiration of his tenure.
He joined the UBA Group in January 2015 and served on the Board of the Group for eight years.
The Group Chairman, Mr Tony Elumelu expressed his appreciation to High Chief Oni, for his commitment, leadership and extensive contributions to the UBA Group and on behalf of the Board, wishes him the very best in all his future endeavours.
Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, United Bank for Africa provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.
UBA is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 37million customers globally.
Naira Swap: Reps Reject Extension, Threaten Emefiele’s Arrest
The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on New Naira Re-design and Naira Swap Policy has added a new twist to the controversy surrounding the deadline for the validity of old notes by rejecting the 10-day extension granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the exchange.
The committee described the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood.
Recall that the CBN had earlier fixed January 31 as the deadline for the exchange of N200, N500 and N1000 old naira notes.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, however, yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave permission for the deadline to be extended till February 10.
But the Ad hoc Committee, chaired by the Majority Leader, House of Reps, Alhassan Doguwa, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, rejected the extension, insisting that the CBN must comply with sections 20 sub 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act.
The Lower House, had during its sitting on Tuesday, last week, following the outcry by Nigerians, constituted the Ad hoc committee to look into the issue.
Doguwa said, “The 10-day extension for the exchange of the old naira notes is not the solution. We as a legislative committee with a constitutional mandate of the House, would only accept clear compliance with Section 20 Sub-section 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act and nothing more.
Nigeria as a developing economy and a nascent democracy must respect the principle of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign arrest warrant to compel the CBN Governor to appear before the Ad hoc committee.”
According to him, under his chairmanship, the committee would continue its work until it gets the demands of Nigerians addressed in accordance with the laws of the land.
While describing the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood, Doguwa insisted that the CBN governor must appear before the House or stand the risk of being arrested on the strength of legislative writs to be signed by the Speaker on Monday (today).
He also said the policy was capable of frustrating the forthcoming general election.
“Security agencies and their operations especially at the state level are generally funded through cash advances and direct table payments of allowances to operatives during elections,” he said.
2023 Election Failure’ll Polarise The Polity, Set Democracy Backwards -Wike
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged Nigerians not to allow the 2023 general elections to fail.
He said the failure of the 2023 elections would increase political polarisation, exacerbate social fault lines and set Nigeria’s democracy backwards.
Governor Wike gave the charge at the 2023 Port Harcourt International Conference, sponsored by Rivers State Government, with the theme: Deepening Democratic Culture and Institutions for Sustainable Development and Security in Nigeria”, held at Obi Wali International Conference in Port Harcourt, last Thursday.
The governor, in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, noted that barely one month away, Nigerians are hoping and praying for the 2023 general elections to herald the deepening of democratic culture, the rule of law and good governance in the country.
Governor Wike, however, insisted that the opportunity to elect a new President of the federation and 30 State Governors should be a success because it will consolidate and strengthen the roots of democracy in the national life of Nigeria.
“In a democracy, periodic elections are the only legitimate means for the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. Since 1999, Nigeria has had six general election circles, but none was considered substantially clean and fair.
“The outcome of the 2003 general elections was rejected at different levels by the opposition and the losers, and litigated up to the Supreme Court. The outcome of the 2007 elections led to protests, riots, the loss of several lives, and the destruction of property in particular sections of the country”, he noted.
Governor Wike also recalled that even President Musa Ya’ardua had promised necessary electoral reforms when he publicly denounced the process that brought him to power because it was severely flawed.
According to him, the 2011 general election also suffered a similar experience and was litigated by the opposition to the Supreme Court.
“None of the defeated contestants believed they lost fairly and blamed the umpire, the security agencies and politicians for undermining our democracy with brazen electoral fraud”.
Governor Wike noted further that the 2015 general election, though considered rigged, recorded some improvements with the use of the smart card reader and the emergence of opposition candidates as the winners of the presidential.
The governor said the 2019 general election was equally problematic and rejected as highly compromised by the opposition and litigated up to the Supreme Court.
“In Rivers State, we battled the military in the 2015 and 2019 re-run and general elections with pure courage and determination to secure our victory and retain our mandate with the sweat and blood of innocent citizens”, he said.
Governor Wike pointed out that when the government compromises the integrity of elections through election management agencies, it denies citizens their constitutional right to elect the leaders they want and can hold accountable.
Conversely, he emphasised, when elections lack integrity, the leaders who emerged from outside the people’s will are illegitimate.
According to him, “Such leaders without trust are likely to be authoritarian, divisive and incapable of effective governance. Serial election rigging threatens our democracy and constitutes an existential challenge to the nation’s future stability.
“Therefore, deepening democratic culture and institutions for sustainable development and security is important to us as a nation, and free and fair elections with integrity remain the only path to achieving this objective”.
Speaking further, Governor Wike said the new electoral law, especially with the provisions of the use of technology, holds the prospect for a brighter democratic experience for Nigeria if implemented effectively.
However, he stressed, that beyond the legal regime, political parties’ internal practices and external electioneering behaviour must conform to democratic norms and standards.
“The efficiency of the judiciary in interpreting and enforcing the existing regulatory regime, including the laws, regulations and guidelines beyond reproach and the capacity and consistency of INEC and the security agencies to be firm, impartial and independent in the discharge of their functions are most crucial.
“Safeguarding and deepening our democracy lies with every citizen. We must have the courage to stand up for justice, the rule of law, an independent and courageous judiciary, and our rights and freedoms to vote and be voted in a transparent election”, he stated.
Presenting his keynote address, former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who titled his paper: “Respecting the Principles of Democracy”, noted that Nigeria’s democracy has gone through twists, dives and turns since political independence.
He said the best of the country’s history has been the sustenance of democracy since the military transfer of power to an elected government in 1999.
He however, observed that there may be reasons to doubt how much lessons the leaders and followers have drawn from the country’s past and how far they are willing to go to deepen, widen and strengthen democracy and democratic practice.
The former president declared that the ways in which the political class have practised democracy have deepened contradictions, negative coalitions, distrust, disloyalty and unpatriotic tendencies within and between communities and constituencies all over the country.
He stated that this means that there is a deep structural and philosophical problems that must be deal with.
Chief Obasanjo informed that if the practice of democracy is superficial and opportunistic and it is designed to pursue a struggle of limited objectives, it would precipitate variants of fractured engagements that cannot address structural and philosophical contradictions and challenges.
“In fact, the order of the day would be community against community, religion against religion, leader against leader. Ordinary citizens are then dragged into the directionless, meaningless and opportunistic personal or narrow ambitions of leaders. The end result will be confusion, diffusion, distraction and possibly leading to separation and disintegration”, he said.
The former president stressed that democracy is possible in Nigeria and the people have the capacity to build a culture of democratization. However, he insisted that Nigerians must recognise and accept the fact that it is an evolutionary process with principles.
“Without retracing our political steps to the right direction, the current process will either not produce the right leaders or it will leave so many broken blocks on the path to governance and attract resources and energy away from the task of rebuilding Nigeria and consolidating our democratic practice.
“The result will be democratic quagmire, increased corruption, insecurity and survival of the fittest, richest and better connected with little or no recognition of merits. The implications and cost of such a scenario to our present and future can best be imagined. I pray that God will grant us the wisdom to do what is right for our country and people at all times and more so now”, he said.
In his opening remarks, former Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was the chairman of the occasion, said the theme of the conference addresses itself to the imperative of enhancing democratic governance to the benefit of Nigerians and the country.
Fayemi pointed to the scholarly assertions of late Claude Ake, on feasibility and possibility of democracy wherein there has to be enduring democratic culture and democracy being structured to be developmental in nature.
He observed that Nigeria’s democracy is bedevilled by lack of party based politics, issued based politicking, untamed political violence, winner take all mentality, growing influence of money in politics, exploitation of loophole to subvert the will of the people and social media and spread of fake news.
“Though, there are some political milestones achieved since 1999, there is no doubt that we still have a longway to go in building a robust culture of power and politics that is both democratic and sustaining”, he said.
As part of the event, there was the unveiling of the book, “Bridging Rivers”, under the chairmanship of former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili.
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