The recent arrest of Ray Hushpuppi for alleged involvement in Internet fraud by operatives of the FBI and Interpol has generated a series of controversies.
However, his arrest as well as his flamboyant lifestyle is reminiscent of his fraudster predecessors. While Hushpuppi maintained a celebrity lifestyle for several years before his arrest, however, past and older fraudsters who were less lavish in their lifestyles carried out bigger scams that smeared the image of Nigeria, brought global attention to Nigeria as a major hotspot for fraudulent characters.
While Hushpuppi and his gang were alleged to have defrauded the U.S. of close to $30 million, brief research will lead us to the most popular and biggest fraudster in the history of Nigeria and one of the biggest scammer in the history of the world.
He does not have a fanciful name like Hushpuppi. His name is Emmanuel Nwude Odinigwe. With the help of his criminal gang of fraudsters, they carried the biggest fraud in the history of Nigeria and one of the biggest in the world.
Emmanuel Nwude was who was an advance-fee fraud artist and former Director of Union Bank of Nigeria.
He is known for defrauding Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste based in São Paulo, of $242 million: $191 million in cash and the remainder in the form of outstanding interest, between 1995 and 1998.
His accomplices were Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe, along with the husband and wife duo, Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba and Amaka Anajemba, with Christian later being assassinated.
After Nick Leeson’s trading losses at Barings Bank and the looting of the Iraqi Central Bank by Qusay Hussein, the crime was the third-largest in banking history.
After a large-scale attack on a town in Nigeria in August 2016, Nwude was alleged to be a ringleader and was arrested on murder charges. He remains in custody.
At the request of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was created by the Nigerian Parliament in 2002. In February 2004, Amaka Anajemba, Emmanuel Nwude, Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe (Christian Anajemba was deceased at this point), were all 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.
They pleaded not guilty. They were immediately warned off of bribing the court staff by Abuja High Court Judge Lawal Gumi, after he alleged that money was going around. The defense team assured that “nothing would be done to bring scandal to the administration of justice.”
Four Nigerian companies, Fynbaz, Emrus, Ocean Marketing and the African Shelter Bureau also faced charges and pleaded not guilty.
In July 2004, Judge Lawal Gumi threw out the case, claiming that since the crime did not take place in Abuja, he had no jurisdiction, and said that the proper place for the case would be the Lagos High Court.
The defendants were immediately rearrested after stepping outside the courthouse and the case was moved to Lagos. In 2005, Nwude attempted to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, then head of the commission, with $75,000 cash. He was charged in connection with the attempted bribery in addition to the attempted kidnapping of a prosecution witness.
In July 2005, Amaka Anajemba admitted to helping Anajemba and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to repay $25.5 million.
During Nwude’s trial, there was a bomb scare that caused the courthouse to be evacuated. Emmanuel Nwude and Nzeribe Okoli pleaded guilty after testimony from Sakaguchi in hopes of a more lenient sentence and were sentenced to 29 years in prison collectively, with Nwude receiving five concurrent sentences of five years, totaling 25, and Okoli receiving four.
The entirety of Nwude’s assets was confiscated to be returned to the victim and a $10 million fine was imposed to be paid to the Nigerian federal government. It was the first major conviction for the EFCC. He was released from prison in 2006.
Nwude filed a lawsuit to recover his seized assets after he was released from prison, on the grounds that some of the assets were acquired before the offense was committed. He has already reclaimed at least $52 Million. As of May 8, 2015, the matter is being heard by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.
After escaping the fraud charges, he finally met his Waterloo in a personal crisis
On August 19, 2016, the town of Ukpo in the Dunukofia area was attacked by over 200 people, apparently due to a land dispute with the neighboring Abagana community. Four policemen were shot, and Emmanuel Okafor, a security guard at a construction site, was killed. The Anambra State Police Command alleged that Emmanuel Nwude was a ringleader, and arrested him on 27 charges including murder, attempted murder, and terrorist attacks.
His case was adjourned until January 16, 2017. He is currently being held at Awka Prison in Anambra State, where there is the fear of a jailbreak due to Nwude’s wealth and status.
There is no public information on whether he was found guilty or the state of his health at Awka prison.