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  • World - South America
  • Updated: December 19, 2023

US accuses Nigerian businessman, firms of multimillion-dollar fraud

US accuses Nigerian businessman, firms of multimillion-dolla

United States President Joe Biden

Tingo Group Inc. was accused by the US Securities and Exchange Commission of lying about having $461.7 million in its subsidiary Tingo Mobile's Nigerian bank accounts when in reality the company only had $50 in those accounts.

The PUNCH reported that the SEC made this announcement on Monday when it filed charges against Mmobuosi Banye, also known as Dozy Mmobuosi,and three affiliated US-based entities of which he is the Chief Executive Officer — Tingo Group Inc., Agri-Fintech Holdings Inc., and Tingo International Holdings Inc.

The commission claimed that Mmobuosi is facing charges related to an alleged multi-year plan to deceive investors globally by inflating the financial performance measures of his firms and their operating subsidiaries.

The SEC stated that it is requesting emergency relief in order to safeguard investor and company assets and stop the defendants from continuing to provide investors with materially inaccurate information.

"The SEC's complaint, filed on December 18, 2023, alleges that, since at least 2019, Mmobuosi spearheaded a scheme to fabricate financial statements and other documents of the three entities and their Nigerian operating subsidiaries, Tingo Mobile Limited and Tingo Foods PLC," the SEC said in a statement.

In press releases, recurring SEC filings, and other public statements, the complaint further claimed that Mmobuosi made and caused the corporations to make substantial misrepresentations about their business operations and financial success.

For example, Tingo Group's fiscal year 2022 Form 10-K, which was submitted in March 2023, stated that the Nigerian bank accounts of its subsidiary Tingo Mobile had a cash and cash equivalent balance of $461.7 million. 

By the conclusion of the fiscal year 2022, the combined amount of those very bank accounts was supposedly less than $50. In addition, the SEC's complaint claims that the defendants falsified the client connections that served as the cornerstone of their alleged enterprises.

"The complaint alleges that Mmobuosi and the entities he controls have embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars in cash or property through these schemes, and that Mmobuosi has embezzled money for his own personal gain, including the purchase of expensive cars and private jets, as well as an abortive attempt to purchase an English Football Club Premier League team, among other things.”

The four defendants in the SEC's action are accused of breaking the federal securities laws' anti-fraud provisions. The case was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

According to the commission, Mmobuosi is also accused of insider trading, lying to auditors, and neglecting to submit Forms 4 that would have revealed the sales of millions of shares of Agri-Fintech common stock, of which he was the ultimate beneficial owner.

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