Three businessmen of Nigerian descent – Anslem Oshionebo, Opeyemi Odeyale and Aleoghena Okhumale – have been convicted for money laundering in the United States.
Their fate was sealed after Ping Express U.S. LLC pleaded guilty to failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.
The Texas company, which transferred millions of dollars from America to Africa, admitted that it failed to play by the rules.
Though the firm was licensed to transmit money, it had no approval to conduct currency exchange.
Ping Express charged U.S. customers a fee to remit money to beneficiaries in Nigeria and other countries in the continent.
The company confessed to allowing over 1,500 customers to violate the laws. One customer remitted $80,000 in one single month, more than 17 times the limit.
Ping Express transmitted more than $167million outside America, including $160million to Nigeria, in less than three years.
The firm admitted it failed to request sufficient details about the sources or purposes of the funds involved in the transactions, or the customers.
A customer, Collins Orogun acknowledged accepting a fee in exchange for transferring money for “romance scam” fraudsters and other criminals.
Orogun received at least $1.3million, cashier’s checks, wires into U.S. bank accounts and moved more than $1million to Africa through Ping.
The defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison; his sentencing is set for January 23, 2023.
Ping CEO Oshionebo and Ping COO Odeyale were sentenced to 27 months in prison; IT/Business Development Manager Okhumale got a 42 months jail term.
The company now faces five years of probation and a fine of up to $500,000; sentencing has been set for December 19, 2022.
Christopher Miller, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Dallas said agents and forensic accountants work to eradicate bulk cash smuggling.
“Our investigative reach provides access to a wide range of financial networks allowing HSI to disrupt any criminal organization attempting to exploit global trade”, Miller noted.
HSI Dallas Field Office conducted the probe in collaboration with the Texas Department of Banking. Assistant U.S. Attorney John de la Garza is the prosecutor.