Nigeria: Obinwanne Okeke Barred From Jobs That Grant Access to Money, Bank Accounts

(file photo).
25 February 2021

The U.S. court also says the internationally renowned entrepreneur must not hold positions involving investments.

Obinwanne Okeke, recently jailed in the U.S. for multi-million dollars fraud, has been prohibited from taking up jobs that can grant him access to money or bank accounts, PREMIUM TIMES reports.

Mr Okeke, formerly renowned internationally as a successful young Nigerian entrepreneur, has also been barred from holding posts involving investments, upon completing his 10 years jail term in the U.S.

The restrictions were imposed on him by a U.S. court in the Eastern District of Virginia, in addition to the prison term, restitution and forfeitures ordered by the court during his sentencing on February 16.

The judge, Rebecca Smith, ordered Mr Okeke, who had pleaded guilty to the fraud charge in June 2020, to restitute the $10.7million proceeds of the crime.

The judge also ordered the forfeiture of his already identified assets in the U.S and Nigeria.

The convict, 33, also known as Invictus Obi, was also ordered to undergo three years of supervised release after completing his 10 years jail term.

The judge ordered that upon his transition into the supervised release phase, the convict should be presented before a duly-authorised immigration official of the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement "for deportation review".

The official, according to Ms Smith, will determine whether to immediately deport him or make him to under undergo the three years "supervised release" in the U.S.

"If not deported, the defendant is prohibited from engaging in any employment where he has access to money or bank accounts and shall not be employed in any capacity involving investment," the judge ordered, as part of the "special conditions" for his supervised release.

Loss of financial privacy

Mr Okeke will also lose the right to privacy concerning his financial life under the "special conditions" for supervised release set by the court, as the judge ordered that if he is not deported, he "shall provide the probation officer access to any requested financial information."

"If not deported, the defendant shall participate in the Treasury Offset Programme (TOP) as directed by the probation officer," the judge added.

The judge also ordered that if he remains in the U.S. after his jail term, he must "not incur new credit charges or open additional lines of credit without the approval of the probation officer."

To enforce compliance with the restitution order, the court also ordered that if not deported, Mr Okeke "shall apply monies received from income tax refunds, lottery winnings, inheritances, judgment, and any anticipated or unexpected financial gains to the outstanding court-ordered financial obligation, or in a lesser amount to be determined by the court upon the recommendation of the probation officer."

Payment for his minor's support

The court also ordered he must pay for the support of his minor child, a baby girl born in the U.S. about a month before Mr Okeke's arrest.

The judge, who ordered him to register with the Department of Child Support Enforcement in any state in which he resides, also said the amount to be paid for his minor's support would be as ordered by any social service agency or court of competent jurisdiction.

Barred from crimes; to continue treatment for drugs

She also ordered that if not deported, the defendant "shall not engage in spamming, phishing, or email bombing" which are part of the offences he was arrested for.

The judge also ordered that if he will undergo his supervised release in the U.S., he must "continue to participate in a substance treatment programme at the direction and discretion of the probation officer."

She added that the treatment would be at Mr Okeke's expense.

The also directed that while on supervised release in the U.S. the convict would be randomly subjected to "urinalysis testing" and if found to test positive for alcohol abuse or use of any controlled substance, he must undergo or participate in a programme approved by U.S. Probation Officer for "substance abuse".

If deported...

Ms Smith also ordered that if Mr Okeke is ordered deported after completing his jail term, he "shall remain outside of the United States."

She added that if at any time, he illegally reenters the United States during the term of supervised release, "his illegal reentry may subject him to a violation of supervised release, as well as a violation of (the) law."

Who is Mr Okeke?

Mr Okeke was until his arrest in the U.S. on August 6, 2019, an internationally renowned young successful entrepreneur, who was operating the Invictus Group in Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.

At 28, Mr Okeke was featured on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine in which he was listed among 30 most promising under-30 entrepreneurs of the year.

The entrepreneur, who holds masters degree in International Business and Counter-terrorism from Monash University, Australia, claimed to have investments in oil and gas, agriculture, private equity, alternative energy, telecom and real estate.

But U.S. authorities later said FBI's months of investigations revealed that he and other conspirators defrauded three victims of nearly $11million in a multi-year global business email and computer hacking scheme.

He was arrested on August 6, 2019, on a criminal complaint for computer and wire fraud to defraud Unatrac Holding Limited, which is headquartered in United Arab Emirates (UAE).

FBI operatives nabbed him at Dulles International Airport, Virgina, as he prepared to depart the U.S. after a visit to witness the birth of his 19-month-old daughter born on July 15, 2019.

On September 9, 2019, he was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit computer fraud.

Mr Okeke, who initially denied the charges, later entered into a plea bargain agreement with the U.S authorities and pleaded guilty to Count 1 on June 18, 2020.

The second count of computer fraud, with lesser penalty, was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

He was sentenced on February 16, 2021.

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