Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale were sentenced to 27 months in prison after Ping Express US LLC, their fintech company, facilitated the illegal transfer of $160 million to Nigeria, Bloomberg reported Friday.
Ping Express US LLC, a Texas-based payments company, failed to maintain effective controls against money laundering and the transmission of unlicensed money, according to US legal documents.
Oshionebo and Odeyale pleaded guilty to failed money laundering charges that resulted in $160 million being shipped to Nigeria over approximately three years through their company.
READ ALSO: Nigerian Extradited From Lagos To US For Multi-Million Dollar Fraud
The Dallas-based fintech faces five years of probation and a fine of around $500,000 after pleading guilty to a similar charge.
Ping Express reportedly sent customer funds to African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) highlighted a three-year period in which Ping Express failed to report a single suspicious transaction to regulators despite processing a “significant number” of them. Ping Express then filed a batch of reports afterwards.
The DoJ revealed that a Ping Express customer used the company to transfer funds from romance scams. Some of the victims of the scam were an Indiana woman who sent $15,000 to a fake oil worker in the Gulf of Mexico and another who sent $6,300 to a supposed Irish captain.
In a separate case, another Ping Express customer moved over $80,000 in a single month. The limit set by the company was supposed to be $4,500.
READ ALSO: A Nigerian Man And His Brother-In-Law Are On Trial In Cambodia For Over $400,000 Of Fraud
Odeyale, 43, and Oshionebo, 45, claimed to be beyond reproach. Odeyale emailed a statement saying the case had “gross violations”.
“I can do a lot of good in the next two or three years rather than waste it fighting an insurmountable enemy,” read part of Odeyale’s statement. “After going through three years of very painful legal battles with a monstrous US DoJ, it was time to give in and move on.”
Oshionebo said they do not have the resources to continue pursuing the lawsuit. Bloomberg quoted Oshionebo as saying that history would be the best judge.
This is yet another financial crime linked to Nigerians last week. Kenyan authorities have frozen accounts containing $381,000 in funds belonging to two Nigerian companies, Korapay Technologies Limited and Kandon Technologies Limited. These companies allegedly illegally transferred $51 million to Kenya.
Kenya’s Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) has accused the companies of serving as a pipeline for international money laundering.