The Legendary Nigerian Scammer: Emmanuel Nwude
This is the story of Emmanuel Nwude who carried out the biggest Nigerian Scam in history!
The story of Emmanuel Nwude is an epic story of a scammer who sold a non-existent Nigerian airport to a Brazilian Banker for $242 million between 1995 and 1998.
This is also the story of the rise of oneline fraud and scams (commonly known as 419) in Nigeria. A phenomenon Nigeria has come to be associated with forever. But before internet fraud became a global issue with wide ranging criminal organizations, Nwude was legenday for one of the biggest scams in the world.
Specifically, his fraud was the third largest banking scam in the world after the Nick Leeson's trading losses at Barings Bank, and the looting of the Iraqi Central Bank by Qusay Hussein. Even to this day, questions remain about how Nwude able to carry out this jaw-dropping scam and convince Nelson Sakaguchi, the director of the bank, to part with so much money for the purchase of an airport in Nigeria?
Who Was Emmanuel Nwude?
Nwude was a former director of Union Bank of Nigeria. In his position it gave him access to confidential internal banking information and documents.
To carry out the scam, in typical Nigerian fashion, he impersonated the then governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Paul Ogwuma, and contacted the Brazilian Banker Sakaguchi offering him a sweet deal on the Nigerian Government's plan to build an airport in in the Nigerian city of Abuja. Nwude, pretending to be the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, told Sakaguchi that he stood to pocket a US$10 million commission when the deal passed through. This being the typical Nigerian scam, focusing on greed and profit as a way to hook the victim.
Sakaguchi paid $191 million in cash and the remainder in the form of outstanding commitments. Not an unreasonable amount for what was offered, but a total scam.
However, Nwude was not alone in his fraudulent scheme. His accomplices were Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe, Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba and Amaka Anajemba, with Christian later being assassinated (as a result of the scam). As well as the Nwude husband and wife duo.
The Discovery Of The Scam
Amazingly, this criminal gang was able to convince the director of the Brazilian bank to part with the money. Of course, it was not without work, and false documentation as well. Eventually, Sakaguchi found out he was a victim of one of the largest scam in the world! In 1997, the Spanish Bank "Banco Santander" wanted to acquire the Brazilian Bank "Banco Noroeste" and a joint board meeting was held in December of that year. Officials of the Spanish bank noted that half of the Brazilian bank’s capital was in Cayman Islands accounts uncontrolled and unmonitored. This raised raised significant control and accounting questions as this was two-fifths of Noroeste's total assets.
An investigation began and was carried out in Brazil, Britain, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States to review the real assets of the Brazilian Bank. Although the sale of the Bank still proceeded as the owners of the Spanish bank paid $242 million for the deal, the world economies were collapsing in 2001 (partly from the Dot Com bust and other balloons).
This formed the birth of the Nigerian EFCC In 2002.
The then president, Olusegun Obasanjo saw to the establishment of an anti-graft agency as being essential to governance in Nigeria, and so created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Nwude’s fraud case one of the first to be investigated by the EFCC in 2004, and all of the members of the gang were arraigned before an Abuja High Court on 86 counts of "fraudulently seeking advance fees" and 15 counts of bribery related to the case.
Although the defendants pleaded not guilty, they were warned not to attempt to bribe court officials as it was suspected that money was going round. Good luck with that!
In 2005, Amaka confessed to helping Anajemba and was asked to repay $25.5 million and also sentenced to two and a half years in Nigerian prison.
Nwude attempted to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the then chairman of the EFCC, with $75,000 in cash, but Ribadu refused and Nwude was charged with attempted bribery as well as attempting to kidnap a key prosecution witness.
Following Sakaguchi's testimony, Nwude finally pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five concurrent sentences of five years and was also asked to pay a $10 million fine to the federal government.
In typical Nigerian fashion the government of Nigeria was the one that gained the most.
This is both the lesson and a cautionary tale about Nigerian scams. Even if they get arrested, the government confiscates the money and the victims rarely get anything back. The Nigerian government, by its actions serve to perpetuate the scam industry by always keeping the money in country.
Today, the EFCC regularly, and increasingly arrests scammers and Yahoo Boys - but when you peel back the layers you see that these are the independents and the rebel scammers that will not work for the larger cartel organizations. Even with arrests every day in Nigeria today, compared to the 100,000 working scammers, it is a drop in the bucket!
The only solution is to shut this down on a global basis that results in sanctions against the country of Nigeria (and all Western African Countries).
portions reprinted from naij.com
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