Nigerian-born tech execs convicted in US for laundering $167 million
Three businessmen of Nigerian descent – Anslem Oshionebo, Opeyemi Odeyale and Aleoghena Okhumale – have been convicted for money laundering in the United States.
Their fate was sealed after Ping Express U.S. LLC pleaded guilty to failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.
The Texas company, which transferred millions of dollars from America to Africa, admitted that it failed to play by the rules.
Though the company was licensed to transmit money, it had no approval to conduct currency exchange.
Ping Express charged U.S. customers a fee to remit money to beneficiaries in Nigeria and other countries in the continent.
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The company confessed to allowing over 1,500 customers to violate the laws. One customer remitted $80,000 in one single month, more than 17 times the limit.
Ping Express transmitted more than $167million outside America, including $160million to Nigeria, since 2019.
The company admitted it failed to request sufficient details about the sources or purposes of the funds involved in the transactions, or the customers.
A customer, Collins Orogun acknowledged accepting a fee in exchange for transferring money for “romance scam” fraudsters and other criminals.
Orogun received at least $1.3million, cashier’s checks, wires into U.S. bank accounts and moved more than $ 1 million to Africa through Ping.
The defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison; his sentencing is set for January 23, 2023.
Ping CEO Oshionebo and Ping COO Odeyale were sentenced to 27 months in prison; IT/Business Development Manager Okhumale got a 42 months jail term.
The company now faces five years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000; sentencing has been set for December 19, 2022.
Christopher Miller, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Dallas said agents and forensic accountants work to eradicate bulk cash smuggling.
“Our investigative reach provides access to a wide range of financial networks allowing HSI to disrupt any criminal organization attempting to exploit global trade”, Miller noted.
HSI Dallas Field Office conducted the probe in collaboration with the Texas Department of Banking. Assistant U.S. Attorney John de la Garza is the prosecutor.
Why I had surgery in Nigeria — VP Osinbajo
Although his doctors advised him to consider doing the surgical operation to correct a fracture on his right femur (thigh bone) abroad, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo insisted on using a Nigerian hospital and medical experts for the procedure.
According to sources close to Duchess International Hospital where the operation took place on Saturday, some of the government and private practice doctors of the Vice President made the suggestion because the going abroad option is often usually considered by such class of patients and at times the option could also seem more seamless.
But one of the doctors who coordinated the whole operation, Dr. Yemi Onabowale, the founder of the Reddington Hospital, was quoted as saying “the VP was clear that he had confidence in Nigerian doctors both at home and abroad and would prefer they handle the operation.”
His preference to have the surgery done in Nigeria is also being regarded as a major boost for the government’s often stated objective of a reversed medical tourism as some voices in the healthcare sector have expressed excitement at Prof Osinbajo’s choice.
He was also said to have argued that doing the operation in Nigeria would not only encourage Nigerian doctors who are among the best anywhere in the world, but it would also help develop the capacity here in Nigeria warmly including groups of doctors like some NMA chapters and other public intellectuals
Meanwhile, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has wished Prof Osinbajo a quick recovery, after the successful operation.
FEC conveyed its goodwill message in a statement yesterday in Abuja by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
Mustapha said the surgical operation, possibly related to a long-standing injury associated with the game of squash, was performed by a team of specialist doctors in Lagos.
“As Prof. Osinbajo recuperates from the surgical operation, FEC wishes him quick recovery so as to continue to give the needed support for the overall growth and stability of the country, ” Mustapha said.