By Biodun Busari
The top executives of a United States-based fintech company, Ping Express have been sentenced to 27 months imprisonment for breaching money laundering rules.
The fintech executives who are Nigerians with the names Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale pleaded guilty to contravening money laundering rules after sending $167 million to Africa unchecked in less than three years.
While Oshionebo is the chief executive officer, oyedale is chief operating officer and both are suspected to have laundered $160 million out the to Nigeria.
This was recently revealed by the US Department of Justice as it added that the Ping Express failed to seek sufficient details about the sources or motives of the funds involved in the transactions, or the customers initiating the transmissions.
It also said part of the money sent to Nigeria was also suspected to be proceeds of internet fraud.
It went further to state that the company’s Information Technology/Business Development Manager, Aleoghena Okhumale, was said to have also pleaded guilty to knowingly transmitting illegally-derived funds.
Both Oshionebo and Oyedale were sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, but Okhumale bagged a prison sentence of 42 months.
Ping Express also admitted that it conducted money transmission business in states in which it was not licensed to do so, including Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, West Virginia, and Connecticut.
In addition, according to DOJ, one Collins Orogun admitted last week that he accepted a fee in exchange for transferring money for ‘romance scam’ fraudsters and other criminals.
In one instance, an Indiana woman sent $15,000 to ‘Carson Jacks’, a purported oil roughneck in the Gulf of Mexico she fell in love with online, after he told her he’d contracted malaria.
In another, a second Indiana woman sent $6,300 to ‘Thomas Ken,” a purported Irish ship captain she fell in love with online, to fix his ship.
In two years, Orogun received more than $1.3 million in cash, cashier’s checks, and wires into several US bank accounts he controlled and then quickly moved more than $1 million of the funds to Africa through Ping Express.
“He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2023,” the statement said.
Ping Express, the company, now faces five years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000. Sentencing has been set for December 19, 2022.