The Founders of Texas-based fintech firm Ping Express US LLC, Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale, have pleaded guilty for failing to combat money laundering on their platform.
A statement by the US Department of Justice, which was seen by Business Insider Africa, explained that the businessmen failed to maintain anti-money laundering controls on their platform; a situation that allowed some of their customers to remit large sums of illegally-derived funds to Nigeria.
“The company outlined its anti-money laundering policy in a memo to state regulators, claiming it would cap first-time customer transactions at $499, cap daily transactions at $3,000, and cap monthly transactions at $4,500. However, in plea papers, the company admitted it allowed more than 1,500 customers to violate these rules. In one instance, Ping allowed a customer to remit more than $80,000 in a single month – more than 17 times the purported limit,” said a part of the statement.
The DoJ further disclosed that the company was guilty of conducting money transmission services in some US states where it was not licensed to operate.
Within a 3-year period, Ping Express US LLC helped customers to remit a total of $167 million to Africa. Out of this sum, $160 million was remitted to Nigeria. And the company was said to have failed to verify the sources of the funds or what they were intended for.
Interestingly, some of the company’s customers have already been tried and found guilty of illegally transmitting funds they earned through romance scams. Two of these three individuals were among the fintech’s top customers. One of the customers, Collins Orogun, pleaded guilty and admitted he accepted fees to help romance scam fraudsters to transfer money from the US to Nigeria through Ping Express US LLC.
In two years, Mr. Orogun received more than $1.3 million in cash, cashier’s checks, and wires into several U.S. bank accounts he controlled, and then quickly moved more than $1 million of the funds to Africa through Ping. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2023,” part of the statement said.
Anslem Oshionebo and Opeyemi Odeyale, who both served as Ping’s CEO and COO, have been sentenced to 27 months in prison. The company’s Head of IT and Business Development Manager, Aleoghena Okhumale, also pleaded guilty to knowingly facilitating illegal remittance of fraudulently derived funds.
Meanwhile the fintech company itself is facing a 5-year probation as well as $500,000 fine.
Source: Business Insider Africa