Nigerian car dealer faces 20 years in US prison over alleged money laundering and investment fraud
The founder and CEO of Big-T Autos, Tochukwu Abel Edeh, has been arrested in the United States of America over alleged money laundering.
The 31-year-old, who was arrested on September 2, 2021, was indicted in Federal Court in Boston on Thursday, September 30.
According to the US Department of Justice, Edeh allegedly operated an unlicensed money transmitting business to launder the proceeds of online investment fraud schemes.
Edeh allegedly conspired with others, in or around 2015, to launder and transmit proceeds of Ponzi-style investment fraud schemes based in Nigeria.
A statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, reads:
“A Nigerian national was indicted today in federal court in Boston in connection with allegedly operating an unlicensed money transmitting business to launder the proceeds of online investment fraud schemes.
“Tochukwu Abel Edeh, 31, a Nigerian national previously residing in Jacksonville, Fla., was indicted on one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count of conspiracy to conduct an unlicensed money transmitting business. Edeh was previously charged by criminal complaint and has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 2, 2021.
“According to the indictment, Edeh managed used car dealerships and currency transfer services in Texas, Florida and Nigeria. This included a trading company as well as a cryptocurrency and e-commerce firm, both of which were based in Nigeria, through which Edeh exchanged Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for profit.
“The indictment alleges that in or around 2015, Edeh conspired with others to launder and transmit proceeds of Ponzi-style investment fraud schemes based in Nigeria. Specifically, the schemes purported to offer trading and Bitcoin investing services when, in fact, investor funds were allegedly stolen and later victims’ investments were used to pay purported returns to earlier investors. Edeh allegedly laundered the fraud proceeds using a network of co-conspirators in the United States and using his personal and business accounts in the United States and Nigeria. Edeh, along with his alleged co-conspirators, did not hold money transmitting licenses in their respective states of residents, nor were they registered as money transmitters as required by federal law.
“The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the laundered funds, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to conduct an unlicensed money transmitting business provides for a sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
“Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Jennifer De La O, Director of Field Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Boston Field Office made the announcement today. Valuable assistance was provided by the Division of Enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil of Mendell’s Securities, Financial & Cyber Fraud Unit is prosecuting the case.
“The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”