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US commission drags Nigerian businessman, three companies to court over fraud

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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on Monday, says it has filed charges against Nigerian businessman and CEO of Tingo Group, Mmobuosi Odogwu Banye, aka Dozy Mmobuosi, and three companies who it accuses of inflating financial records of the companies and key subsidiaries to defraud investors.

The US SEC in a statement accuses Mmobuosi of inflating the financial statements of Tingo Mobile Limited since 2019. It says the reported balance of the company put at $461.7 million for its 2022 fiscal year, is not consistent with its actual balance of less than $50.

The statement says: “The SEC’s complaint, filed on December 18, 2023, alleges that, since at least 2019, Mmobuosi spearheaded a scheme to fabricate financial statements and other documents of the three entities and their Nigerian operating subsidiaries, Tingo Mobile Limited and Tingo Foods PLC. The complaint further alleges that Mmobuosi made and caused the entities to make material misrepresentations about their business operations and financial success in press releases, periodic SEC filings, and other public statements.

“For instance, Tingo Group’s fiscal year 2022 Form 10-K filed in March 2023 reported a cash and cash equivalent balance of $461.7m in its subsidiary Tingo Mobile’s Nigerian bank accounts. In reality, those same bank accounts allegedly had a combined balance of less than $50 as of the end of fiscal year 2022. According to the SEC’s complaint, Defendants also fabricated the customer relationships that formed the basis of their purported businesses.”

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Adding, the SEC says: “The complaint alleges that Mmobuosi and the entities he controls have fraudulently obtained hundreds of millions in money or property through these schemes, and that Mmobuosi has siphoned off funds for his personal benefit, including purchases of luxury cars and travel on private jets, as well as an unsuccessful attempt to acquire an English Football Club Premier League team, among other things”.