In News by Oluwaseun Samuel on the 16th, July, 2020

Interpol Indicts American Man For ‘Advance Price Fraud’ In Nigeria

Interpol Indicts American Man For 'Advance Fee Fraud' In Nigeria

John Mitchener

John Mitchener

The Worldwide Prison Police Organisation (Interpol) says it has established a case of fraudulent actions by an American company participant in Nigeria.

John Mitchener had been accused of “financial sabotage, acquiring credit score by false pretences, fraudulent commerce practices and unlawful repatriation of capital, intimidation and risk to life” by his Nigerian enterprise accomplice.

After investigating, the Interpol nationwide central bureau stated it had established that the American was a “transnational fraudster” and requested that the case be handed over to the Nigerian police authorized division for additional motion.

Ranger Worldwide Restricted (RIL), a US firm managed by Mitchener, had in 2014 entered a partnership with the Nigerian Technixs Oilfield Assist Restricted, promoted by Abimbola Omotade, to include a brand new enterprise often called Ranger Subsea Nigeria Restricted.

The corporate was set as much as present companies and help for the offshore oil and gasoline trade. 

Within the shareholding settlement, Technixs was apportioned 51% whereas Ranger takes 49%. 

Each entities agreed that modalities for the execution of contracts obtained or sourced for the brand new enterprise should be mentioned, particularly the monetary a part of the contracts.

With out Technixs’ consent, jobs sourced from worldwide oil firms akin to Chevron and Exxon Mobil have been allegedly carried out by Mitchener and proceeds of the tasks have been repatriated to the US with out the board’s approval. 

Ranger Subsea Nigeria Restricted then suspiciously closed store in Nigeria, leaving its accomplice and tens of distributors in debt of over N19 billion.

In one other suspicious transfer, Mitchener returned to Nigeria with a brand new firm, EPIC Firms LLC, to supply different contracts.

‘THEY ARE TRANSNATIONAL FRAUDSTERS’ 

In its investigations, Intepol concluded that Ranger and Mitchener carried out fraudulent transactions across the enterprise partnership it had with Technixs.

On September 27, 2018, he was arrested in Lagos after Interpol obtained a warrant from a Justice of the Peace courtroom within the federal capital territory (FCT).

He was delivered to Abuja the following day, and after making his assertion, he was granted bail.

His passport was additionally registered with the police organisation to forestall him from leaving the nation.

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The Interpol, in its report signed by Garba Umar, its commissioner, stated based mostly on the event reached thus far, “it suffices to state that that is an organised crime by the suspects who’re clearly transnational fraudsters whose inventory in commerce is to trigger untold hardship, pains and monetary loss on unsuspecting victims as it’s evidenced on this case underneath investigation.”

The police stated the act of the suspects is opposite to the provisions of sections 1, 2 and three of the advance price fraud and different associated offences act, 2006.

It additional advisable that the case file be forwarded to the authorized division for acceptable path on the matter.

‘HOW MITCHENER VIOLATED THE AGREEMENT WITH FRAUDULENT ACTIVITIES’ 

In a petition to the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC) dated February 5, 2019, Technixs had accused Mitchener of forging a shareholders’ settlement purporting to have been executed by Omotade on his firm’s behalf. 

The firm stated Mitchener, with one Tosin Labeodan, had been brandishing the settlement “to humiliate, intimidate and frustrate our firm to get to the underside of John Mitchener’s unlawful actions”. 

Itemizing the varied allegations of infractions, he stated Mitchener, by way of his People collaborators, obtained a mortgage of $60 million from AKRIFA Holdings LLC within the US purportedly to fund normal working capital necessities of Ranger with none approval of shareholders. 

The petition learn partially: “Instantly the loans have been delivered to Nigeria, John Mitchener repatriated the funds again to America to fund a few of RIL worldwide operations in Mexico and Caribbean Island. 

“John Mitchener illegally created choice shares in favour of AKRIFA Holdings LLC and proceeded to fraudulently alter the incorporation paperwork of Ranger Subsea Nigeria Restricted to replicate this place with out board approval. This was coordinated along side Tosin Labeodan. 

“Throughout the operation of RIL and John Mitchener in Nigeria between 2015 and 2018, John Mitchener fraudulently racked up a debt of over $48 million within the identify of Ranger Subsea Nigeria concerning monies owed to distributors and the contract funds paid by Worldwide Oil Firms to Ranger Subsea Nigeria have been at numerous instances repatriated to America by John Mitchener.” 

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Studies and annual returns of the enterprise have been allegedly concocted by Mitchener as Omotade stated they weren’t adopted as true illustration of the monetary dealings of Ranger Subsea Nigeria. 

RANGER, ACQUIRED BY EPIC, LEFT WITH DEBTS UNPAID 

In a letter dated December 19, 2017, the defunct Skye Financial institution had written to Ranger asking the corporate to pay up the debt owed Fortune World Delivery & Logistics Restricted (FGSL), one of many distributors who supplied companies for the corporate. 

The financial institution emphasised that Ranger wanted to pay as much as allow liquidation of FGSL’s obligations to the financial institution. 

Regardless of letters from Ranger exhibiting willingness to make the fee, the financial institution stated the corporate was but to fulfill the obligations. 

“The continued excellent of this indebtedness might result in its classification by the CBN. The place this occurs, Ranger could also be blacklisted with the ensuing putting a vendor restriction on the corporate,” the financial institution warned in a memo seen by TheCable.

Giving Ranger a 14-day ultimatum, the financial institution stated it might suggest the corporate to the Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN) for stiffer sanctions which can influence negatively on the creditworthiness of Ranger as a counter-party for and mortgage transactions in Nigeria. 

A month later, Ranger, in a letter dated January 22, 2018, wrote FGSL to acknowledge that it was owing. 

“We hereby verify and acknowledge our indebtedness to your organization within the sum of NGN 355,762,702,87 (Three Hundred Fifty 5 Million, Seven Hundred Sixty Two Thousand Seven Hundred Two Nigerian Naira and Eighty Seven Kobo solely) and USD 1, 913, 621, 81 (One Million, 9 Hundred 13 Thousand, Six Hundred Twenty One and Eighty One Cents) being debt, as at January 22nd, 2018 for companies carried out for Ranger Sub-Sea Nigeria Restricted in respect of Shell SPDC-FYIP, Chevron, ConOil and Assist tasks,” it stated within the letter, additionally seen by TheCable.

Ranger then gave assurance that it might be dedicated to creating the fee. 

After ready for an additional six months, FGSL, in a letter dated July 11, 2018, wrote Ranger, demanding that they’re paid. 

“All your guarantees together with the weekly fee of $25,000 (Twenty-5 Thousand US ) on account of outdated money owed and quick fee for present transactions have been by no means saved,” FGSL wrote. 

FGSL additional gave Ranger one other 21-day ultimatum to pay up. 

Barely two months later, in a curious method, Texas-based EPIC Firms LLC would introduced in August, 2018 that it had acquired Ranger. 

“EPIC Firms, LLC (“Epic”) and Ranger Offshore, Inc. (“Ranger”) are excited to announce the enterprise mixture of Ranger and Epic. EPIC is now a international, full service marine contractor, in a position to present buyer options worldwide,” Epic wrote in a press release. 

In October, 2018, Mitchener turned EPIC’s director for West Africa and Brazil.

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TECHNIXS UNDER PRESSURE 

In a swift transfer, FGSL, in September, 2018, filed a swimsuit on the superior courtroom of judicature within the excessive courtroom, industrial division, in Accra, Ghana, searching for an order for the arrest and detention of DLB SEA HORIZONI, a vessel belonging to Ranger which was throughout the jurisdiction of the courtroom. 

The swimsuit with quantity CM/RPC/0641/2018 has Technixs, seen as one of many companions of Rangers, listed because the ninth of ten defendants. Ranger was listed as the sixth. 

In its petition to the EFCC, Technixs who itself felt short-changed by Ranger, had stated the liabilities and obligations to a number of distributors who’re owed about N19 billion would put the corporate underneath strain as a few of the distributors are threatening to sue Technixs for complicity on the “fraudulent actions of John Mitchener”. 

Epic and its administrators are but to answer TheCable’s e mail searching for their response on the problem.

Dele Oyewale, EFCC’s spokesperson, has been contacted by TheCable for an replace on the petition however he’s but to provide an replace on the progress.

***

Supply: TheCable

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