Finance

$120 million fraud: How court convicted Nigerian couple for defrauding American company


The Lagos State High Court, Ikeja division, has convicted Mr Augustine Ezeama and Mrs Juliet Ezeama of fraud to the tune of $120 million.

They were both being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on seven counts bordering on conspiracy and obtaining money under false pretences.

On Thursday, Justice O. H. Oshodi found them guilty of the charges proffered against them by EFCC and consequently convicted them.

Backstory

  • The company, CIFERCOM LLC had lodged a complaint against Mr Ezeama and his company, Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited for defrauding it of $102,550 as processing fees for a non-existent contract.
  • According to EFCC, in January 2015, Mr Ezeama convinced the firm, CIFERCOM LLC, to come to Nigeria promising to facilitate a huge contract for them.
  • Mr Ezeama thereafter introduced a business proposal of $8,000,000 to the company. The company later paid the sum of $102,550 to Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited, a firm owned by Mr Ezeama and his wife Juliet whom he introduced as as a Federal Government agent, who served as intermediary between them.
  • In May 2015, Mr Ezeama told the complainant that the new President wanted the project extended to cover the whole country with a new cost of $120,000,000.00 and he was expected to pay an additional $650,000.00 before June 10, 2015.
  • Upon not receiving any contract after a long wait, the complainant approached the EFCC through his lawyers for investigation into the matter.
  • After investigations, the couple were charged to court by the EFCC but both pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

What happened in court

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, counsel for the second defendant prayed the court to temper justice with mercy as they were first time offenders.

He told the court that “This is a first time offence for the defendants and they have realised their mistake. The second defendant, Juliet Ezeama, has been coming to court since she was arrested on September 8, 2016. They are parents who also have children that need parental care.”

Mr A. Adepoju, the first defendant’s lawyer patted the court to be in convicting the the couple.

The presiding judge revoked the bail granted to the couple and ordered that they be remanded at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre. He then adjourned the matter until July 7, 2022, for sentencing.

What you should know

  • The couple were both arraigned on November 16, 2016, alongside their company Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited before Justice Oshodi on a seven count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretence.
  • One of the counts reads “Augustine Chidiebere Ezeama, Juliet Ezeama and Mabrubeni Nigeria Limited, on or about the 6th day of May, 2015 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $30,570 (Thirty Thousand Five Hundred and Seventy US Dollars) from CIFERCOM LLC under the false pretence that the money was for registration of CIFERCOM LLC as a company in Nigeria preparatory to the award of $8 million (Eight million US Dollars) contract to CIFERCOM LLC by the Federal Government of Nigeria, which representation you knew to be false”.



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