Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nigerians convicted in $242 Million Fraud Scam

The Nigerian Government is trying to improve it's image, especially in Advance fee fraud (419) scams. According to the Associated Press two Nigerians were convicted in an international fraud scheme that led to the collapse of a Brazilian Bank. The amount of this scheme allegedly is $247 million. An insider at the bank illegally transferred funds, up to $4.75 million in one transaction at a time, to accounts specified by Frank Nwude and Nzeribe Okuli (the Nigerian defendants).

According to the AP, "Okoli was sentenced to four years in prison, while Nwude received five five-year sentences, to be served concurrently, and was ordered to pay the bank $110 million as well as a $10 million fine, said Ibrahim Lamode, a top official at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. A third defendant was convicted earlier in the scheme."

Let's see, $247 million minus $110 million equals $137 million still missing. Since the definition of concurrently in legal terms means together, Okoli will serve only five years and Nwudi four. If they were to split up the time (minus a $10 million fine for the Nigerian goverment), this equates to $14.1 million profit per year for each year they serve. Not too shabby in a country, where the average person can barely afford to eat.

I wonder if there sentences will include "time off for good behavior?" With the amount of money left over, it probably would be easy to arrange in a country, which is notorious for corruption.

The sad fact is the majority of Nigerians live in an extreme state of poverty, despite being a member of OPEC and the eleventh largest producer of petroleum in the world. A select few in Nigeria (along with foreign companies) have been the recipients of massive profits, yet the majority of the country lives in poverty.

No wonder there are so many willing recruits into the seedy world of 419.

I'm glad the Nigerian government is going after some of this, but to me this case is merely an attempt at publicity. They and the foreign companies doing business there need to realize that providing a better standard of living for the eighty percent (who live in severe poverty) is the only thing that will make a lasting change against the rampant corruption and violence that exists in Nigeria today.

To understand the situation in Nigeria, all one needs to do is read the CIA's analysis: U.S. State Department's Travel Warning - Nigeria.

For further reading, here is a previous post, I did on 419 in Nigeria, 419 From the Other Side of the Fence.


prying1 said...

Man's inhumanity to man is unbelievable. Their consciences must be seared to well done. From the Nigerian government, to the judges to the thieves. I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis speaking of men's minds being bent. Thanks for your keeping up on these things. - GBYAY

Imnakoya said...

Thanks for your excellent post, Ted. However, I note the subtle aroma of sarcasm in some of your statements. Some of your deductions about Nigeria are also flawed.

I’m a Nigerian as well as a legal United States’ resident. Since my parents and siblings live in Nigeria, I make it a priority to visit home yearly. So I follow events in Nigeria closely. While I’ll admit that Nigeria has a long way to go as per world standard, the nation has been taking strides to correct some of the ills pervading its society.

As you probably realize, Nigeria has never had a stable democracy until in the last 6 years. The military incursion into governance made a mess of almost every thing there is about the nation. So you can appreciate how tough it is to pull a 45-year old nation of 130 million, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic people of diverse religion from the brim of destruction, all within 6 years.

Thus, the judgment you posted about, particularly this statement:

“I'm glad the Nigerian government is going after some of this, but to me this case is merely an attempt at publicity” demostrate either your general disconnect, or lack of understanding of sociopolitical issues in Nigeria. Despite the imperfections associated with the judgment, it is my opinion and others that it is a positive and huge accomplishment to the Nigerian justice system and to the nation in general. It is without precedence, and a comforting display of hope to many. And given that part of the world, hope means a lot.

You also state, and I quote:

“I wonder if there sentences will include 'time off for good behavior?' With the amount of money left over, it probably would be easy to arrange in a country, which is notorious for corruption.”

Common Ted, this is malicious! Even in the United States, many instances abound where perpetrators of financial crimes have “walked free from serving time". Aside from those that the Bush adminstration have decided to “publicly spanked”, you know just as I do, that more of these corporate executives need to serve some jail time. What many of them did is “419” in my books, period. Their actions or inactions, have caused many hard working Americans serious pains, and given the trend of events it is not inaccurate to conclude that many in the about-to-be-retired category of the US workforce will retire into abject poverty because of the “419-like” actions of some corporate executives.

You also mentioned extreme poverty. I know for a fact that any developing nations can’t meet the standard of living of the US. There is indeed poverty in Nigeria, but maybe not as you have stated. You state “…majority of the country barely has enough to eat...” This is inaccurate, this is not Niger or some famished and drought-striken nation. There are varieties of food items to choose from. However, if you had mentioned “cost” then you would have made your point. The greater proportion of peoples disposable income goes to food, and it is simply a function of inflation.

On violence and the CIA analysis of the situation in Nigeria. I chuckled, because I wonder what the mighty C. I. A would have written about conditions in Iraq and the middle east in general? Their write-up is simply exaggerated. If the situation is as bad as stated why are there so many expatriates in the Nigeria? There are pockets of violence in Nigeria, but not widespread violence as the report suggest.

I have to state in clear terms that I’m neither on the government payroll nor connected or have access to the corriders of power in Nigeria. I’m just a “regular Joe”, so to speak. However, While I may not be in agreement with you on some issues, we certainly share some common grounds; Nigeria has to thoroughly clean up its act within and outside the shores of the country. The postings on my blog- Grandiose Parlor do attest to this. Thanks.

Ed Dickson said...

Thanks for your comments Imnakoya. Please note that I do have as strong a conviction towards fraudsters here in this country and have written numerous posts on that, also.

I have also criticized our lack of effort in prosecution on many posts.

This blog is designed as a forum to speak out for the victims, including those in Nigeria.

By the way, your blog is very well written and informative. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in African affairs.

You're right, we do share a lot of the same views and communicating them is crucial to making this a better world for everyone.

Anonymous said...

hi there,

your comments about Nigeria are deeply flawed. Reading this article, it is clear the writer knows little or nothing about Nigeria, the statistics are laughable and your deductions are at best 'lazy'!

Sometimes I wonder whether or not some bloggers realise that the world wide web is really that - world wide, and that me sat in Calabar, Nigeria, writing for a local audience and describing to them how much snow falls in California, makes me look silly to the guy in San Diego!