Nigerian Fintech Owners Bag Jail Term in US

Two fintech executives and a manager at a U.S money transfer company have been sentenced to eight years in a U.S federal prison.

Ping Epress has admitted in U.S District Court filings that it violated money-laundering rules after transferring $167 million out of the U.S Of that $160 million was sent to Nigeria over 3 years some of which was proceeds from an internet romance scam.

The company admitted it failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and operated without a license in at least five U.S states according to a statement released by U.S Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas.

Ping Express chief executive Anslem Oshionebo 45 and chief operating officer Opeyemi Ode 43 were both recently sentenced to 27 months in prison and the company’s business manager Aleoghena Okhumale was sentenced to 42 months for knowingly diverting the proceeds of crime.

According to Bloomberg a former senior PwC manager said in an email that he did not have the resources to continue the case and that “history will be the best judge.” For his part COO Odeyale claimed there were “serious irregularities” in the case against him.

According to the U.S Department of Justice (DoJ) Ping’s anti-money laundering policy it limits first-time customer transactions to $499 daily transactions to $3,000 and monthly transactions to $4,500. The company acknowledged in court filings that it “allowed more than 1,500 customers violate these rules. In one example Ping allowed customers to send more than $80,000 in a month — 17 times the claimed limit. “Read part of the statement.

Ping Express also admitted that it failed to seek sufficient details about the origin or use of the funds it helped transfer or the customers who initiated the transfers. By law the company is supposed to report any suspicious transactions to regulators. But according to the company’s In court filings it failed to file an anti-money laundering report during three years of operation.

One of Ping’s key clients Collins Orogun pleaded guilty to laundering money for “romance scam” fraudsters and other criminals according to the DOJ statement. DOJ says he received more than $1.3 million in cash over two years The cashier’s checks and wire transfers went into several U.S bank accounts he controlled and more than $1 million was quickly pinged to Africa.

In one incident an Indiana woman wired $15,000 to “Carson Jacks,” a putative oil worker in the Gulf of Mexico who she fell in love with online after he claimed to have malaria. Another Indiana woman claims to have fallen in love with an Irish captain named ‘Thomas’ online Ken” and wired him $6,300 to repair his boat. Orogun facilitated both payments via Ping.

Orogun now faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on January 23 2023.

Ping Express itself faces up to five years of probation and a $500,000 fine.

Ping COO Odeyale also founded Payzen Limited a UK-registered e-money company formerly known as Clicks FX Limited in 2013. In December 2020 about 10 months after he was formally charged by U.S Department of Justice officials for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and operating without a license he dropped His controlling stake in Payzen.

The U.K business was not mentioned in the U.S case but documents on the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website show that Payzen also traded under the name Ping Express. According to Bloomberg the current controlling shareholder of Payzen Adekanmi Adedire said his company Nothing to do with “a completely different entity” Ping Express. However Payzen’s website in the FCA’s online database is still listed as ping-express.com

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