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Meet Nigerian Con Man Emmanuel Nwude, The Man Who Successfully Sold A Non Existent Airport For $242m

Emmanuel Nwude Odinigwe is a Nigerian advance fraud artist and former Director of Union Bank of Nigeria.

Around 1995 to 1998 Emmanuel Nwude along with his local accomplices defrauded Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director at a Brazilian bank in São Paulo, of $242 million. Of which $191 million was paid to him in cash as an outstanding interest.

With his experience as a bank Director. Mr Nwude successfully impersonated Paul Ogwuma, then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, after which he contacted Mr Sakaguchi about a new airport he intend building in abuja, nigeria.

Convinced, by his trick Mr Sakaguchi promptly released a total of $191 million in cash and the remainder in the form of outstanding interests. This crime would later become the third largest fraud in banking history.

Nwude’s scam was not discovered until 1997, when the Spanish Banco Santander was conducting its due diligence as part of a take over of Banco Noroeste. In which an official from Santander inquired about why a large sum of money, two-fifths of Noroeste’s total value and half of their capital, was sitting in the Cayman Islands unmonitored.

This led to criminal investigations in Brazil, Britain, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States that eventually uncovered the fraud.

In 2002, the then president, Olusegun Obasanjo saw to the establishment of an anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Nwude’s fraud case one of the first to be investigated and in 2004, all members of the gang were arraigned before an Abuja High Court on 86 counts of “fraudulently seeking advance fees” and 15 counts of bribery related to the case . Although they pleaded not guilty, they were warned not to attempt to bribe court officials as it was suspected that money was going round.

In 2005, Amaka confessed to helping Anajemba and was asked to repay $25.5 million and also sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Nwude attempted to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the then chairman of the EFCC, with $75,000 cash but the latter refused and Nwude was charged with attempted bribery as well as attempt to kidnap a prosecuting witness.

Following Sakaguchi’s witness, Nwude finally pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five concurrent sentences of five years and was also asked to pay $10 million fine to the federal government.

He was released from prison in 2006 and filed a case to reclaim his assets insisting some of them were acquired before the criminal act. He has so far been able to reclaim $167 million

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