Obinwanne Okeke Ready To Plead Guilty For $11 Million US Fraud
United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said Okeke and at least six other persons were involved in the crimes.
“There is a probable cause to believe Okeke has conspired with several individuals to access computers without authorisation and using such access to cause the fraudulent wire transfer of funds,” FBI’s special agent Marshall Ward said in an affidavit he deposed to before Justice Lawrence Leonard, in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 2 2019.
The FBI agent said the investigations that nailed him began in July 2018 after Unatrac Holding Limited, an export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industry and farm equipment, in the United Kingdom was defrauded of $11 million through a phishing scheme.
Okeke, however, pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge against him. He has since then been in detention.
Nine months after, American authorities said Okeke, a Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 honoree, was ready to enter a guilty plea in court.
Already, a Senior United State District Judge, Rebecca Smith, has given an order approving the plea bargain arrangement.
“The Court has been advised that the defendant wishes to enter a plea of guilty,” Judge Smith said in her Order of April 24.
“A United States Magistrate Judge is hereby authorised, with the consent of the defendant, to conduct the proceedings required by the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 incident to the making of the plea. See 28 U.S.C. Section (b) (1); United States v. Dees, 125 F.3d 261 (5th Cir.1997).
“The defendant may consent to the United States Magistrate Judge conducting the proceedings on a form provided by the clerk.”
Smith disclosed that if after conducting such proceedings, the Magistrate Judge accepts the plea of guilty and the associated plea agreement, a presentence investigation shall be conducted and a report shall be prepared pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32, and a sentencing data shall be scheduled.
“If the plea of guilty is accepted, the District Judge will adjudicate guilt and will determine and impose a sentence.”
Magistrate Judge Robert Krask has been appointed to conduct the plea agreement hearing set for June 18 at the Norfolk Magistrate Courtroom 1.
Already Okeke had been made to forfeit at least $11 million in asset and an emerald shaped diamond engagement ring found on him when he was first arrested by federal agents as he was about leaving the U.S. on August 6 2019.
He had made previous appearances before separate judges for preliminary hearings in his bail applications but were declined.