A businessman, Kolawole Erinle was found guilty and given a twelve-year prison sentence for a $1.4 million fraud by Judge Rahman Oshodi of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos.
In a statement released by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Dele Oyewale, Erinle, and his business, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, were initially arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court located in Ikeja, Lagos, on March 11, 2022.
Despite his “not guilty” plea, the case was reassigned to Justice Oshodi because Justice Taiwo’s retirement prevented the trial from ending before then.
After that, on October 28, 2022, he was re-arrested before Justice Oshodi on three counts of conspiracy, keeping proceeds of illegal activity, and receiving $1,410,000 (one million four hundred and ten thousand US dollars) under false pretences.
One of the charges read, “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle and Edward Dada (still at large), sometime in 2019, at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired to falsely represent yourselves as J.E. Dunn, a local construction company in America, with intent to gain monetary advantage in the sum of $1,410,000 (One Million Four-Hundred and Ten Thousand United States Dollars) by creating a fake domain name jedunn.org and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No 14, 2006.”
Another count read, “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited and Edward Dada (still at large) on or about the 3rd day of May 2019, at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, retain the control of $1,410,000 (One Million Four-Hundred and Ten Thousand United States Dollars) in your Access Bank account, which sum you knew to be proceeds of various internet and cybercrime.”
He, again, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.
During the trial, prosecution counsel T.J. Banjo questioned four witnesses and provided various pieces of documentary evidence to make the case against him and his company.
The prosecution also provided proof that Erinle was a bank fraud ex-convict in the United States.
On February 10, 2023, Justice Oshodi revoked the defendant’s previous release after the prosecution filed an application demonstrating that he never fulfilled the bail conditions given by Justice Taiwo.
Erinle took the stand to defend himself after the prosecution rested its case.
He refuted the prosecution’s charges while being led in evidence by his counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, he admitted that he was an ex-convict in the United States who had served 23 months in prison. He also expressed regret for not returning his victim, stating, “I am sorry.”
On September 26, 2023, Justice Oshodi ruled that the defendant and his company were guilty as charged and that the prosecution had effectively proven the case against them beyond all reasonable doubt.
Justice Oshodi held that, as argued by the prosecution, Erinle, “spoofed the email address of the financial controller of J.E. Dunn by faking the domain name of jedunn.com to jedunn.org”, an act which was “premeditated”, so that “when KCUMB was about to pay J.E. Dunn, you provided Bank of America details in the name of E. Dada Autos, and after the wire transfer of $1,412,509.40 into it, in March 2019, you caused the money to be transferred in tranches of $850,000 and $460,000 into the second convict’s account, which you also control”.
The trial judge further held that “The evidence shows that you transferred the proceeds of your crime to your nominees, including your mother, and your wife, and also acquired vehicles and other properties captured in exhibit P to P1.
“I have considered the prosecution’s submissions that you have a prior conviction for bank fraud in the United States of America.
“I have considered the fact that notwithstanding your prison term, which you have confirmed to me as sentencing for 23 months, you have not changed.
“I have considered the preceding as aggravating factors.
“You also told me that you are sorry, but I do not believe that you are genuinely remorseful, but you have said it.”
Thereafter, Justice Oshodi sentenced him to five years on count two, and 12 years on count three.
The sentences are to run concurrently from February 10, 2023, when he was remanded by the court.
The company, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, was fined N50 million, and also ordered to be wound up by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) with the proceeds forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The convicts were also ordered to make restitution to the victim.
The Judge further ordered that all the properties and vehicles recovered from them by the EFCC be sold and applied as restitution to the victim through the FBI.
The funds standing to his credit as recovered by the EFCC, and the company, the court added, “shall be applied as restitution for the victim by the FBI; this is without prejudice for the prosecution and the victim to secure a full restitution.”
Erinle’s journey to the Correctional Centre started when he was arraigned on three-count charges bordering on defrauding the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, KCUMB, in the United States of about $1,412,509( One Million, Four Hundred and Twelve Thousand Dollars, Five Hundred and Nine cents). The matter went into full trial and he was convicted.