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Full details of the deal Invictus Obi had with the United States government after pleading guilty to N4.2 billion fraud

Barely three years ago, business magazine Forbes celebrated Obinwanne Okeke as one of “the world’s most influential young entrepreneurs.”

The 32-year-old money man behind Abuja-based Invictus Group admitted his involvement during a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with American authorities on Thursday.

After months of denying wrongdoing, Mr Okeke, also referred to as Invictus Obi, pleaded guilty to $11 million (N4.2 billion) theft before a federal judge within the united states on Thursday morning, in line with court documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

He would be sentenced on October 22 for a potentially lengthy period that would see him spend 20 years behind bars. He also faces up to $250,000 in fines and other potential penalties.

Deal struck
Appearing along with his lawyer, John Iweanoge, Mr Okeke impassionedly acknowledged to federal prosecutors and magistrate Robert Krask of the united states District Court for Eastern District of Virginia that he was indeed a culprit in a multi-million dollar artifice indictment that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, prepared against his syndicate last year.
The F.B.I. said Mr Okeke, amongst other illicit pursuits, connived with some individuals, some of whom remained at large, to defraud American companies and individuals over a period of a minimum of four years.

A single scheme that targeted Unatrac, a subsidiary of american heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, saw the syndicate walk off with up to $11 million in spurious wire transfers, court documents showed.

The admission was an opportunity from Mr Okeke’s initial plea of innocence and an important breakthrough for American authorities within the criminal proceeding that began immediately after he was arrested in early August 2019.

Mr Okeke was returning to Nigeria after a quick visit to the united states when FBI agents intercepted him at the airport and hauled him to a jail on the outskirts of the capital Washington D.C. He apparently was unaware of an impressive warrant against him before and through his stay within the U.S. in the weeks resulting in his arrest on August 6.

Following his detention, Mr Okeke was indicted by a federal jury in September. Prosecutors expected him to admit wrongdoing for expeditious disposal of the case, but he instead pleaded innocent .

When the trial commenced in February, his lawyers contested the jurisdiction assumed by American authorities over the case, arguing that he didn't commit the offence on American soil.

They also said authorities suppressed evidence and did not read their client his rights following his arrest. All the allegations were denied by prosecutors, who filed evidence that contradicted defence team’s claims.

Mr Okeke’s lawyers later backed down and agreed to a plea affect the prosecutors in April. The deal, which was authenticated by a magistrate on Thursday, allowed Mr Okeke to admit guilt on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Second charge dropped, immunity agreed
Mr Okeke was initially indicted on two counts of computer and wire fraud. With the plea bargaining , he was only found guilty of wire fraud, while the second charge that carries lesser sentence and fines was dropped.

As a part of the deal, Mr Okeke would enjoy immunity from prosecution on an equivalent matter within the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia. The district would also confirm the validity of the plea agreement just in case Mr Okeke is charged over a similar offence in other jurisdiction.

Should a need arise in future, federal authorities within the district also undertook to form a case for Mr Okeke to not be charged for an equivalent offence in other jurisdiction.
He would, however, lose his rights to appeal the sentence and any fines which will be imposed against him at sentencing.

As a part of the deal, Mr Okeke agreed to forfeit all cash and asset directly or indirectly linked to him as a part of recovery mechanism against the $11 million fraud.
A federal judge would decide whether to pursue partial, full or no forfeiture against Mr Okeke at the point of sentencing.

Premeditated fraud
According to the statement of facts submitted to Mr Krask, Mr Okeke admitted to prosecutors that his encroach upon crime didn't come in error.

“The defendant stipulates and agrees that his participation within the events described was undertaken knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully and not as a results of an accident, mistake or other innocent reason,” prosecutors said.

Sentencing groundwork
Ahead of Mr Okeke’s sentencing in October, both prosecutors and defence teams are assigned a slew of tasks that has got to be administered .

These include a requirement that said the defence lawyer must give three days’ notice to the probation office to ascertain Mr Okeke on the modalities of his life in prison.

The probation office itself was given 35 days before October 22 sentencing hearing to submit the report of its investigation on what Mr Okeke’s life in prison would be.
The court at sentencing would accept letters, if any, that attest to Mr Okeke’s character and involve lighter penalties against him.

May serve sentence in Nigerian prison
The sentencing guidelines being considered in Mr Okeke’s case included the likelihood of his removal from the U.S. when he's ultimately sentenced by a federal judge in October, court documents showed.

If pending issues around Mr Okeke’s immigration status within the U.S. are resolved in his removal from the country, he could also be sent to Nigeria to serve out the remainder of his term, which might include the 14 months he would have spent in prison by the time of his sentencing on October 22.

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