Nigerian fintech operators jailed in US for money laundering


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July 16 (THEWILL) – A US court has found three Nigerians guilty of money laundering, after they illegally facilitated the payment of $160 million to Nigeria over a three-year period, through their payment company, Ping Express US LLC.

A statement from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) explained that the businessmen failed to maintain anti-money laundering controls on their platform; a situation that has allowed some of their clients to transfer large sums of funds of illegal origin to Nigeria.

“The company outlined its anti-money laundering policy in a memo to state regulators, saying 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 documents, the company admitted to allowing more than 1,500 customers to break those rules. In one instance, Ping allowed a customer to deposit over $80,000 in a single month, more than 17 times the alleged limit,” the DoJ statement read in part.

He further revealed that the company was guilty of providing money transfer services in certain US states, where it was not licensed to operate.

“In the span of 3 years, Ping Express US LLC has helped clients transfer a total of $167 million to Africa. Of this amount, $160 million was remitted to Nigeria. And the company allegedly failed to verify the sources of the funds or what they were intended for.

“Interestingly, some of the firm’s clients have already been tried and found guilty of illegally passing on funds they earned through romance scams.

“Two of these three people were among the main fintech customers. One of the clients, Collins Orogun, has pleaded guilty and admitted accepting a fee to help love scammers transfer money from the US to Nigeria via Ping Express US LLC.

“Over two years, Mr. Orogun received more than $1.3 million in cash, cashier’s checks and wire transfers to multiple U.S. bank accounts he controlled, then quickly moved more than $1 million in funds into Africa via Ping. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and is expected to be sentenced on January 23, 2023,” the statement added.

However, according to court documents, Anslem Oshionebo, 45, and Opeyemi Odeyale, 43, who both served as CEO and COO of Ping, were sentenced to 27 months in prison for their failure to maintain effective controls against money laundering. money transfer and unlicensed money transmission.

The company’s head of information technology and business development, Aleoghena Okhumale, also pleaded guilty to knowingly facilitating the illegal transfer of fraudulently derived funds and was sentenced to 42 months in prison.

The trio pleaded guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile, the Dallas-based fintech company with an alliance in the UK faces 5 years probation, as well as a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to a similar charge.

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