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US charges ex-fintech CEO with fraud

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LA Post: US charges ex-fintech CEO with fraud
January 02, 2024
Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan unveiled criminal charges against a Nigerian fintech businessman who recently bid unsuccessfully for an English Premier League soccer club, saying he lied to investors about the finances of his companies.

Odogwu Banye Mmobuosi, the former co-chief executive officer of Tingo Group, was charged with securities fraud, making false U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and conspiracy in an indictment made public on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the defendant, known as Dozy, falsely represented that his Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods were profitable businesses generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue.

Mmobuosi sold the businesses to Tingo Group and Agri-Fintech Holdings, caused them to falsely portray his businesses as "cash-rich, revenue-generating companies," and looted millions of dollars by misappropriating cash and selling stock at inflated prices, the indictment said.

A lawyer for Mmobuosi could not immediately be identified. Tingo Group, based in Montvale, New Jersey, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The alleged scheme occurred from 2019 to 2023, prosecutors said.

Mmobuosi temporarily stepped down as Tingo Group's co-CEO last month, after the SEC filed civil charges accusing him of orchestrating a "staggering" fraud.

The SEC said Mmobuosi siphoned at least $16 million from Tingo Group and used it to buy luxury cars and travel on private jets, and try to buy the Sheffield United soccer team.

According to the SEC complaint, Tingo Mobile purportedly supplies mobile handsets and related services to farmers in Nigeria, while Tingo Foods is a purported food processor.

The indictment was made public nearly seven months after the short-seller Hindenburg Research accused Tingo Group of having "fabricated" its financials, and challenged Mmobuosi's claim to have developed Nigeria's first mobile payment app.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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