The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, May 16, 2022 presented its last witness and closed its case in the ongoing trial of a couple: Oladeji and Omotayo Henry, alongside their company, Built Global Concepts, facing prosecution for an alleged N555,820,000 ( Five Hundred and Fifty Five Million, Eight Hundred and Two Naira) fraud.
The couple is appearing before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos.
The EFCC had, on March 4, 2020, arraigned the defendants on a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to steal, and stealing contrary to Sections 411, 280(2)(f), 280(1)(b) and 287 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
Count one read: “That you, Oladeji Henry, Omotayo Henry, and Built Global Concept, sometime in 2018 in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to dishonestly convert to the use of Abiodun Semawon Henry the total sum of N410,170,000.00 (Four Hundred and Ten Million, One Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira), property of Smart Investor Club; and thereby, committed an offence contrary to Sections 411 and 280 (2)(f) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.”
Another count read: “That you, Oladeji Henry, Omotayo Henry, and Built Global Concepts Limited, sometime on or about 2018 in Lagos, within the Ikeja judicial division, conspired amongst yourselves to dishonestly convert to the use of Abiodun Semawon Henry the total sum of N70 million property of Julius Ekonorue.”
They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
At Monday’s proceedings, prosecuting counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, presented the last witness, Vincent Kwanbuge, an operative of the EFCC, who was involved in the investigation.
In his examination-in-chief, he testified that the EFCC received a petition in July 2019 written by Oludare Falana on behalf of 24 victims of the defendants, alleging fraudulent diversion of their money by the defendants.
He said: “We commenced investigations and the two defendants were arrested on September 3, 2019 in Lagos.
“Upon the execution of a search warrant, some vital documents were recovered.
“Letters of investigation activities were written and sent to banks, the Corporate Affairs Commission and MBA Forex.”
According to him, in the course of the search, documents of a landed property worth about N80 million, believed to have been procured through money obtained from the victims of the defendants, were recovered from their residence.
He added that the defendants invested part of the money obtained from their victims in another company called MBA Forex.
He further told the court that Built Global Concepts Limited was solely owned by the defendants.
He further testified that the defendants created a WhatsApp group, Smart Investors Club, which they used to communicate with their victims, the “investors”.
He added that the phone of one of the complainants was analysed and the various communications in the group were screenshot and printed out.
He said: “The group was created by the defendants and the investors were assured of the integrity of their funds, including the interest and the principal.
“They were assured that they would receive 15 per cent return on investment of every amount invested within 30 days.
“That particular WhatsApp group was also a tool used to lure the ‘investors’ to invest their money.
“It was a closed group and only the admin officers, who were the defendants, could post there.
“They are the ones who can add someone to the group and you can’t be added unless you are an investor.”
Thereafter, the prosecution tendered the printed documents from the WhatsApp in evidence, and they were admitted as Exhibit P15.
Under cross-examination by the defence counsel, Adeola Onikosi, the witness insisted that the defendants diverted the money of the “investors” for their personal use and only paid them returns at the early part, just to lure them to invest more and bring more investors.
In his testimony, he likened the whole investment scheme to a ponzi scheme whose ultimate goal was to defraud its “investors”.
When asked about one Abiodun Semawon Henry, a “lead trader” in crypto currency, which the investment was said to be involved in , the witness said: “My lord, this is a trader we have never seen, and when those investors were investing their money, with Smart Investors Club, none of the admin officers, being the defendants, disclosed to them that there is another person going to be involved.
“The only thing I know about Semawon is that the defendants said that they gave him the money, yet they could not provide his location- he is a brother to one of the defendants and an in-law to one of the defendants.
“Even the defendants claimed that they didn’t know his whereabouts. Yet, they gave him millions of Naira that didn’t belong to them.
“It was when some of the investors started to request for their principal contribution that the issue of a third party came in. At the outset, they were not informed that their money would be passed to someone else.
“So the defendants lured them into the investment with a fraudulent intention.”
Thereafter, the prosecution closed its case as Justice Dada adjourned the matter to June 28 and 29, 2022 for the defence to open its case.