Banking

Fintech execs convicted in U.S. after $160 million despatched to Nigeria

The operators of a Texas funds agency with ties to the U.Okay. pleaded responsible within the U.S. to cash laundering failures after their enterprise facilitated the delivery of $160 million to Nigeria over about three years.

Anslem Oshionebo, 45, and Opeyemi Odeyale, 43, obtained 27-month jail sentences for failing to take care of efficient anti-money-laundering controls and unlicensed cash transmitting, in keeping with US authorized filings. The Dallas-based firm they owned and operated, Ping Express US LLC , faces 5 years of probation and a nice as excessive as $500,000 after pleading responsible to an analogous cost, whereas one other government obtained a 42-month sentence, the Department of Justice stated in a July 7 assertion.

Ping Express despatched prospects’ remittances to Nigeria, Kenya and different African nations. In one three-year interval highlighted by the Justice Department, the agency didn’t flag a single suspicious transaction to regulators regardless of processing a “significant amount” of them, although it filed a batch of reviews later.

One buyer used the agency to maneuver funds they produced from fake-romance scams, with victims together with a girl in Indiana who despatched $15,000 to a supposed roughneck oil employee within the Gulf of Mexico, and one other who despatched $6,300 to a purported Irish sea captain, in keeping with the Justice Department’s assertion. Another buyer moved greater than $80,000 in a single month, excess of the corporate’s $4,500 restrict, court docket filings present.

“Having gone through a very painful three years of legal battle with a monstrous US DoJ, it was time to give in and move on,” Odeyale stated in an emailed assertion that claimed the case in opposition to him had “gross violations,” whereas he cited his monitor file with different companies. “There is a lot of good I can do with the next two to three years than waste it in fighting an insurmountable foe.”

Oshionebo stated in an e mail that “history will be the best judge” however he didn’t have the assets to proceed preventing the case.

Odeyale additionally based and managed Payzen Ltd., a London-based funds firm the place Oshionebo has additionally been a shareholder. The U.Okay. Financial Conduct Authority granted Payzen approval to function in January 2020, two months earlier than federal prosecutors for the Northern District of Texas charged the 2 males and quite a lot of others with cash laundering crimes, in keeping with U.S. and U.Okay. filings. The British enterprise wasn’t talked about within the U.S. case and hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

Odeyale ceased to be a controlling shareholder of Payzen in December 2020. The firm is as we speak managed by Adekanmi Adedire, filings at Companies House present. In a LinkedIn message, Adedire stated that Payzen is “unrelated” to Ping Express, which is a “totally different entity.”

Payzen nonetheless holds an lively license as a funds firm, with its web site listed as ping-express.com, the FCA’s web site reveals. Ruth Wharram, a spokeswoman for the regulator in London, stated she was unable to touch upon a person case. The watchdog takes “all relevant information into account in our supervision of firms,” she added.

The British financial-technology scene has come below scrutiny amid fears that its weak controls are enabling the motion of illicit funds world wide.

Transparency International UK has known as for more durable supervision after discovering that greater than one-third of U.Okay.-licensed electronic-money establishments present pink flags.

Gabriel

A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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