FBI arraigns Nigerian man in US over COVID-19 fraud

FBI arraigns Nigerian man in US over COVID-19 fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), on Monday, November 22, arraigned a Nigerian man, Olusola Ojo, 42, over fraud related to COVID-19 small-business loans.

Consequently, Ojo was found guilty following a four-day trial in Tulsa federal court of two counts of bank fraud and one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

This was confirmed by Acting U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson who said, “A jury has found Olusola Ojo guilty on all charges related to a Paycheck Protection Program bank fraud conspiracy. He was taken into custody to await sentencing.

“Criminals should understand that diverting taxpayer money meant to help struggling small businesses survive during the pandemic will be fully investigated and prosecuted.

“Inspectors and agents from the Federal Reserve, Small Business Administration, and FBI are to be commended for their work in this case.”

Ojo was named by the FBI along with two others in a series of grand jury indictments dating back to July 2020 that involved over $5 million in small-business Paycheck Protection Program loans.

The indictment alleged that Ojo and one co-defendant, Ibanga Etuk, conspired to commit bank fraud between April 1 and Aug. 4, 2020.

Ojo and Etuk created 18 businesses that would fraudulently apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans under false pretenses; such as the number of employees; payroll expenditures; taxes paid during previous months; details of business ownership, and a false representation of their relationship with one another, according to the indictment.

Etuk and his wife, Teosha Etuk, who was charged later, have already pleaded guilty; to crimes linked to their part in the scheme.

Ibanga Etuk was sentenced to serve four years in prison. His wife is serving a 12-month, one-day prison term.

Ojo is scheduled to be sentenced on April 1.

Meanwhile, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said that the Federal Government plans to inject 10 million gas cylinders in the next year; through certified marketers in 12 pilot states.

Osinbajo disclosed this at a two-day Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) sensitisation under the theme: “Stimulating Delta state’s socio-economic growth through LPG adoption and expansion”, on Monday, November 22, in Asaba.

Also Read: Okowa urges FG, stakeholders to ensure reduction in gas prices

Osinbajo stated that two states had been selected from each geopolitical zone for the pilot programme.

The Vice President said that the Federal Government was committed; to ensuring an end to gas-flaring and had signed the climate change bill; to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in the country.

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