Tuesday 6 October 2020

U.S. postpones sentencing of convicted Nigerian online fraudster, Obinwanne Okeke


The sentencing of  36-year-old and Chairman of Abuja-based Invictus Group, Obinwanne Okeke has been postponed until next year.

Recall that Okeke was arrested by FBI officials in 2019 on charges of conspiring with some individuals, some of whom remain at large to defraud American companies and individuals over a period of at least four years.

He pleaded guilty to allegation of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with the American authorities in June, after months of denying his involvement in the crime.

Barely three years ago, business magazine Forbes celebrated Obinwanne Okeke as one of “the world’s most influential young entrepreneurs.” So much for that. The 32-year-old money man behind Abuja-based Invictus Group admitted his involvement in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with American authorities on Thursday. 

After months of denying wrongdoing, Mr Okeke, also known as Invictus Obi, pleaded guilty to $11 million (N4.2 billion) theft before a federal judge in the United States on Thursday morning, according to court documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES. He would be sentenced on October 22 for a potentially lengthy period that could see him spend 20 years behind bars. He also faces up to $250,000 in fines and other potential penalties. Deal struck: 1. 

The second charge dropped, immunity agreed Mr Okeke was initially indicted on two counts of computer and wire fraud. With the plea bargain, he was only found guilty of wire fraud, while the second charge that carries lesser sentence and fines was dropped. As part of the deal, Mr Okeke would enjoy immunity from prosecution on the same matter in the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia. 

The district would also confirm the validity of the plea agreement in case Mr Okeke is charged over the same offence in other jurisdiction. Should a need arise in future, federal authorities in the district also undertook to make a case for Mr Okeke not to be charged for the same offence in other jurisdiction. 

He would, however, lose his rights to appeal the sentence and any fines that may be imposed against him at sentencing. As part of the deal, Mr Okeke agreed to forfeit all cash and asset directly or indirectly linked to him as part of recovery mechanism against the $11 million fraud. A federal judge would decide whether to pursue partial, full or no forfeiture against Mr Okeke at the point of sentencing. 2. Sentencing groundwork Ahead of Mr Okeke’s sentencing in October, both prosecutors and defence teams have been assigned a slew of tasks that must be carried out. Continues in comment............

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