By Soni Daniel
LAGOS—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, weekend, burst a major corporate fraud when it took into custody one Alhaji Mohammed Gobir for allegedly defrauding foremost outdoor advertising company, Afromedia, huge sums of money in various currencies. The act fetched Gobir a huge fortune in both local and foreign currencies worth billions of Naira.
The suspect illegally collected $3,500,000, N514,457,151.87, $2,102,740 and 51,000 Pounds Sterling at various times. Gobir, a 55-year-old father of two, was picked by the operatives of EFCC in the early hours of Saturday in his Ikoyi residence and taken to the Lagos office of the anti-graft agency for interrogation. The suspect allegedly defrauded the advertising company through a phony investment deal.
He was allegedly introduced to Afromedia sometime in 2008 by their Private Placement Consultants, Synergy Capital Advisory Limited, as a high net-worth investor who was willing to inject N1 billion into the company through the acquisition of shares.
Based on his touted pedigree as potential investor, Gobir wormed his way into the hearts of the management and in no time, became chairman of the Business Development Committee of the board of directors of the company, a position which he would later use to defraud the company.
Having earned the trust of the company owners, Gobir started demanding large sum of money which he termed as business expenses to international consultants, Royal Exchange Bureau, in the United Kingdom in order to facilitate and secure investments from a United Kingdom-based bank.
The company gave Gobir the sum of $1,000,000 in cash and also paid for his travel expenses on a first class return ticket to UK where he would meet with the purported investors, which investigation later revealed never existed nor were the meetings ever held. On one good day after the suspect had collected huge sums of money and made several trips to the UK to meet with the purported investors, the Group Managing Director of Afromedia accompanied him to the UK for another round of meeting ostensibly to close the deal.
But as soon as they landed in the UK, Gobir made a telephone call in which his travel companion overheard him scream aloud, saying his assets were seized by UK anti- money laundering authorities. He even showed the GMD an email sent to him for the alleged seizure.
The suspect confessed to the MD of Afromedia that his money( $250,000,000) had earlier been seized by the British authorities over allegations of money laundering and that he was currently financially handicapped and needed a bailout in the sum of $3,817,000 to get the European Union Money Laundering Waiver Certificate.
The suspect later presented a “waiver certificate”, to the company and promised to pay them all the monies he had collected Up till the time of his arrest, the suspect had not paid the company a kobo. EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed the arrest, said investigation into the scam was continuing.