NIGERIANS have expressed shock over the arrest of their countryman and billionaire entrepreneur, Obinwanne Okeke, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Okeke was arrested for conspiracy to commit fraud running into $12 million.
The arrest was made known in an affidavit made available to the media on Friday by Marshall Ward, a special agent employed by the United States Department of Justice.
Political commentator, Tolu Ogunlesi, was one of those who broke the news to a bewildered nation on the Instagram @toluogunlesi.
It reads: NEWS: The FBI is charging this young Nigerian ‘Entrepreneur’ with conspiracy to commit Computer Fraud & conspiracy to commit Wire Fraud. BEC stuff. Amount involved appears to be around ELEVEN MILLION US DOLLARS.”
A Twitter user, @chikenyelum, who claimed to have crossed Okeke’s path during his University days, said he had been involved in several suspicious activities, and he was blocked by people who felt he wanted to dupe them on Facebook.
With Okeke’s current travails, many people have been distancing themselves from him.
Bella Naija, a fashion publication, which did a feature on him has reportedly deleted the featured post.
Many traditional media houses did reported the news yesterday.
Businessmen UMEH MEDIA contacted on Saturday craved anonymity, wondering why such a promising young man could engage in such criminality.
But, according to the information on the case, the special agent investigating the matter premised the arrest on a complaint lodged by representatives of Unatrac Holdings Limited one of the alleged victims in the fraud.
The charge sheet reads in part: “In June 2018, Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment, headquartered in the United Kingdom, contacted the FBI. They reported that Unatrac had been victimised through an email compromise, which ultimately resulted in fraudulent wire transfers totalling nearly 11million U.S. Dollars. After reviewing the documentation provided by the representatives, the FBI opened an investigation in July 2018.
“The FBI discovered that after capturing the legitimate credentials of Unatrac’s Chief Financial Officer, the accused was able to log in and access the CFO’s entire Office365 account, which included all of his emails and various digital files. The logs indicated that between April 6 and April 20, 2018, the intruder accessed the CFO’s account 464 times, mostly from Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from Nigeria.
“With full access to the account, the intruder sent fraudulent wire transfer requests from the CFO’s email account to members of Unatrac’s internal financial team. The intruder also attached fake invoices to the emails to enhance the credibility of the requests.”
Okeke, born 9 November 1987, is a Nigerian entrepreneur and the founder of Invictus Group.
In 2016, he was named by Forbes as one of ‘30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 to Watch’.
He was also listed among 100 Most Influential Young Africans 2018, which included Davido, Falz and Ahmed Musa.
The billionaire has been extensively involved in sourcing, structuring, implementing and monitoring various private equity investments in African and Australian markets and has many years of investment experience.
Before founding Invictus Group, Okeke had assisted with founding and running other entrepreneurial establishments.
He holds a Bachelors and a master’s degree (MA) in International Relations and Counter-Terrorism (cum laude) from Monash University, Australia.
He had also received several leadership honorary awards from local as well as international organisations.
Specifically, Okeke’s business interest span across a number of sectors, which include mainly real estate development, energy and construction. Invictus Group operates in three African countries, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia.
Okeke’s recent focus has been on building energy-efficient houses that feed exclusively from solar power.
He was raised in Ukpor village, 790 km from, Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, as the 17th child of a polygamous father.
Not many 28 year olds have achieved what Okeke has done
He did not only runs a successful company, he built from a little more than a computer and employs hundreds of people but he has been on the cover of FORBES AFRICA and the publication named him as one of 30 Africans who may be future billionaires.
“This is the most important list of the year for FORBES AFRICA. If one young African reads it and is inspired enough to start a business, it has done its job. Entrepreneurs like Obinwanne are proof that there is hope for Africa,” Chris Bishop, Managing Editor of FORBES AFRICA, said.
The list took the FORBES AFRICA team nine months to compile. Okeke was chosen out of hundreds of entrepreneurs across the continent. His peculiar story, business size, hard work and potential earned him a spot.
On why he became an entrepreneur, The businessman had said: “I became an entrepreneur because of a dream. I say that because I had known this from a very young age that all I needed was to dream and work towards it. Coincidentally, the dream is free.”
Nigerians interviewed on Saturday said they are watching the development about Okeke’s arrest.