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Emmanuel Nwude: Story Of Nigeria's Biggest Fraudster In World's History

Emmanuel Nwude committed the third biggest fraud ever known in the banking history. He sold a non-existent.... for $242 million between 1995 and 1998

Chinwendu Mmuojeke - Buzz Nigeria - 17-07-28b
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The story of Emmanuel Nwude who committed the largest fraud in Nigeria by selling a non-existent airport to a Brazilian for $242 million between 1995 and 1998 became the biggest banking fraud in the world till date.

The crime also became one of the phenomena that gave rise to internet fraud commonly known as 419. But before internet fraud became a global issue, Emmanuel Nwude had committed one of the biggest scams in the world. He successful swindle the Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste based in São Paulo, of $242 million. 

How Emmanuel Nwude committed the crime

His fraud was specifically the third largest banking scam in the world after the Nick Leeson’s trading losses at Barings Bank and the looting of the Iraqi Central Bank by Qusay Hussein.

Emmanuel Nwude did not act alone, his accomplices included;

  • Emmanuel Ofolue,
  • Nzeribe Okoli,
  • Obum Osakwe,
  • Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba (who was later assassinated) and
  • Amaka Anajemba

As Banker and former director of Union Bank of Nigeria, his position made him privy to some links, information and documents. Hence, Emmanuel Nwude impersonated Paul Ogwuma, then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and persuaded Sakaguchi to invest in a new airport in FCT, Abuja, in exchange for a $10 million commission.

The attractive commission was enough for Sakaguchi to agree to pay $191 million in cash and the remainder in the form of outstanding interest.

How the scam was uncovered

The fraud was not discovered until close to three years, in August 1997, when Spanish Banco Santander wanted to take over the Banco Noroeste Brazil.

During a joint board meeting, 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.

A criminal investigation was carried out in Brazil, Britain, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States. While the sale of the Bank proceeded, the owners of Banco Noroeste bank paid $242 million bills before its collapse in 2001.

Birth of EFCC

As investigation over the international scam continued, former President Olusegun Obasanjo created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC in 2002.

In February 2004, Emmanuel Nwude and his gang were arrested and charged in the Abuja High Court with 86 counts of “fraudulently seeking advance fees” and 15 counts of bribery related to the case.

However, they pleaded not guilty at first. But the court was strict as the Abuja High Court Judge, Lawal Gumi warned them off bribing any court staff.

Emmanuel Nwude was further charged with attempted bribery of Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman of EFCC, with $75,000 cash, as well as attempted kidnapping of a prosecution witness.

In July 2005, Amaka Anajemba admitted to helping her husband, Anajemba and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and to repay $25.5 million.

Nwude and Nzeribe Okoli were not so lucky. They pleaded guilty after testimony from Sakaguchi in hopes of a more lenient sentence, but were sentenced for up to 29 years in prison collectively – Nwude receiving five concurrent sentences of five years, totalling 25, and Okoli receiving four.

As the court verdict was passed, the entirety of Nwude’s assets were confiscated to be returned to the victim and a $10 million fine was imposed on him to be paid to the Nigerian Federal Government.

After his release from prison in 2006, Nwude filled a lawsuit to recover his seized assets on the ground that some of the assets were acquired before he committed the offence. At least $167 million was allegedly released to him while the matter is being heard by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.

More criminal charges

In August 19, 2016, there was a land dispute in the town of Ukpo in the Dunukofia area. The fight turned bloody in Abagana community when over 200 men invaded and killing four policemen and the security guard at a construction site.

Emmanuel Nwude was implicated as the instigator by the Anambra State Police Command and was arrested on a 27-count charge including murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.

Despite all these criminal convictions, he is still perceived as powerful because of the money he wields. He is currently remanded at Awka Prison in Anambra State as of the time of this post.


Tags: scam, fraud, Emmanuel Nwude, Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, Obum Osakwe, Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba, Amaka Anajemba, bank fraud, 419, Nigerian

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