Illinois Resident Convicted at Trial in South Florida for Carrying Out a $2 Million Fraud Scheme Targeting Nigerian Oil Company
On August 23, 2019, Oyeyemi Olatunji Owagboriaye, 63, of Chicago, Illinois, was convicted of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343 (Case No. 18cr20361). A jury returned a guilty verdict following a five-day trial before United States District Judge Kathleen M. Williams, in Miami, Florida.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and the Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR), made the announcement.
The evidence presented at trial established that Owagboriaye participated in a $2 million dollar advance fee scheme targeting a Nigerian oil company called Zone 4. In particular, Owagboriaye’s partner, Vincent Zubero, persuaded Zone 4 to hire him to raise a $45 million dollar loan to refinance an oil tank farm in Nigeria. Zone 4 would provide a $2 million “equity contribution” toward the loan, which would be held in escrow until the first tranche of the loan was funded. Instead, however, Zubero and the defendant split the proceeds of the $2 million equity contribution and never funded the loan. Owagboriaye’s portion of the equity contribution was more than $835,000. Owagboriaye and Zubero quickly covered their tracks by signing a bogus “memorandum of understanding” in which they purported to agree that the $835,000 being transferred to Owagboriaye was for the purpose of supporting a phony “trade platform” by which Owagboriaye would raise the financing for the oil tank farm project. Then, Owagboriaye created a phony invoice for dump trucks to cover up the fact that Zubero was wiring him $835,000 of Zone 4’s money. Owagboriaye also created phony bank instruments purporting to establish his control over hundreds of millions of dollars to be used for Zone 4’s loan. In reality, Owagboriaye was spending Zone 4’s money, including a more than $300,000 transfer to himself in Nigeria, $190,000 in cash withdrawals, and thousands more on personal expenses.
Owagboriaye is scheduled for sentencing on October 31, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. and faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
Zubero previously pled guilty for his participation in the wire fraud scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 12th, 2019 at 2 p.m.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and OFR in this matter. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Perwin, Marty Elfenbein, and Roger Cruz.