ON Monday, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ordered the temporary forfeiture of N280,555,010 allegedly belonging to embattled Nigerian entrepreneur Obinwanne George Okeke also known as Invictus Obi for alleged money laundering amongst other charges.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, had filed an ex – parte motion to seize the money in question affirming that investigation by the EFCC revealed that the sum of N280.6 million allegedly belonging to Obi was traced to the bank accounts of Invictus Oil and Gas Limited and Invictus Investment Limited.
Rotimi Oyedepo, EFCC counsel, stated that the funds were “reasonably suspected” to be proceeds of cyber-crime, and he requested the judge to order forfeiture.
In an affidavit filed in support of the application, Ariyo Muritala, EFCC investigator, said the funds could be expended by Okeke and his cronies if the order is not granted.
“I know as a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following ear-aching and mind-boggling findings: (a) That the Obinwanne George Okeke is a strong leader of a cybercrime syndicate specialized in business email compromise. (b) That the said syndicate has defrauded many innocent and unsuspecting victims (g) That the said Obiwanne George Okeke has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America for cybercrime-related offences (h) That if these funds are not forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria Obiwanne George Okeke and his cronies will dissipate same,” he said.
The presiding judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered a temporary forfeiture of the accounts requesting the EFCC to publish the court’s order in the national dailies to allow people interested in contesting the court’s decision to indicate interest before a final forfeiture is announced.
In 2016, 31-year-old Obi was celebrated by Forbes as one of Africa’s “most outstanding 30 entrepreneurs under the age of 30.
He was arrested in 2019 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, where he is currently standing trial in the US for allegedly defrauding some US citizens to the tune of $11 million “through fraudulent wire transfer instructions in a massive, coordinated, business e-mail compromise scheme.
The court was adjourned to October 30 for further hearing on the case.