The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Saturday burst a major corporate fraud when it took into custody a popular businessman, Alhaji Mohammed Gobir, for allegedly defrauding foremost outdoor advertising company, Afromedia, of huge sums of money in various currencies.
The purported mega fraud fetched Gobir $3.5 million, N514,457,151.87, $2,102,740 and £51,000 at various times.
Gobir, a 55-year-old father of two was picked up by the operatives of EFCC in the early hours of Saturday at his Ikoyi residence and was still being interrogated at the Lagos office of the anti-graft agency at press time yesterday.
The suspect allegedly defrauded the advertising company through a phony investment deal.
The suspect was allegedly introduced to Afromedia sometime in 2008 by their private placement consultant – Synergy Capital Advisory Limited – as a high network investor who was willing to inject N1 billion into the company for the acquisition of shares.
Based on his touted pedigree as a potential investor, Gobir cozied up to the management and in no time became chairman of the Business Development Committee of the board of directors of the company, a position which he would later use to defraud the company.
Having earned the trust of the company’s owners, Gobir started demanding large sums of money which he termed as business expenses to international consultants, Royal Exchange Bureu in the United Kingdom, in order to facilitate and secure investments from his bank in the UK, NatWest Bank.
The company gave Gobir the sum of $1 million in cash and also paid for his travel expenses on a first class return ticket to the UK where he would meet with the purported investors, which investigations later revealed never existed nor were the meetings ever held.
On one good day after the suspect had collected several sums of money and made several trips to the UK to meet with the purported investors, the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Afromedia accompanied him to the UK for another round of meetings ostensibly to close the deal.
But as soon as they landed in the UK, Gobir made a telephone call in which his travel companion overheard him scream aloud, saying his assets had been seized by British anti-money laundering authorities. He even showed the GMD an email sent to him on the alleged seizure.
The suspect confessed to the GMD of Afromedia that his money – $250 million – was seized by the British authorities five years earlier on allegations of money laundering and that he was currently financially handicapped and needed a bailout in the sum of $3,817,000 to get a European Union Money Laundering Waiver Certificate.
The suspect later presented a “waiver certificate” to the company and promised to refund all the monies he had collected.
However, up till the time of his arrest, the suspect had not paid the company a penny.
EFCC spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed the arrest, said investigation into the scam was ongoing.