Emmanuel Nwude is regarded as the biggest con artist in Nigerian history for selling “a bogus airport” to Nelson Sakaguchi of Brazil for $242 million
The crime committed by Emmanuel Nwude is still regarded as one of the largest banking frauds in history. The crime also contributed to the emergence of the 419 scam, a type of computer fraud.
One of the largest scams in history was carried out by Emmanuel Nwude even before online fraud became a global problem. Between 1995 and 1998, he was able to defraud the Director at Brazil’s Banco Noroeste, situated in So Paulo, of $242 million, $191 million in cash, and the remaining sum in the form of unpaid interest.
He committed the third-largest banking fraud in history, behind Qusay Hussein’s robbery of the Iraqi Central Bank and Nick Leeson’s trading losses at Barings Bank.
Nwude had access to certain links, information, and documents due to his job as a banker and former director of Union Bank of Nigeria.
Nwude therefore found it simple to pass himself off as Paul Ogwuma, the then-governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and convinced Mr. Sakaguchi to invest in a new airport in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja in return for a $10 million fee.
Sakaguchi agreed to pay $191 million in cash and the remaining amount in the form of accrued interest because of the alluring commission.
When Spanish Banco Santander sought to acquire Banco Noroeste Brazil in August 1997, over three years had passed since the scam had been committed.
A representative from Santander questioned why Noroeste had half of its capital and two-fifths of its total worth lying unmonitored in the Cayman Islands during a joint board meeting.
Brazil, Britain, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States all conducted criminal probes. Before Banco Noroeste bank collapsed in 2001, its owners paid $242 million in debts while the Bank was being sold.
In 2002, former president Olusegun Obasanjo established the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, while the probe into the global fraud progressed.
Emmanuel Nwude and his group were detained in February 2004 and charged in the Abuja High Court on 15 counts of bribery and 86 counts of “fraudulently obtaining advance fees” in connection with the case.
They first entered a not guilty plea, nevertheless. However, the Abuja High Court Judge, Lawal Gumi, warned them against bribing any court employees, therefore the court was strict.
Emmanuel Nwude was also accused of attempting to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the EFCC, with $75,000 in cash and of abducting a prosecution witness.
After Sakaguchi’s testimony, Emmanuel Nwude entered a guilty plea in the hopes of earning a lighter punishment. Instead, he received a total term of 29 years in jail, with five consecutive sentences of five years each, for a total of 25 years.
A $10 million fine was issued to be paid to the Nigerian Federal Government, and all of Nwude’s assets were seized and given back to the victim. It was the EFCC’s first significant conviction. Nwude was let out of jail in 2006.
Nwude sued to reclaim his seized property in 2006 after being released from jail on the grounds that part of the assets had been obtained before the crime for which they had been seized.
Later, on August 19, 2016, Emmanuel Nwude was detained once more on a 27-count accusation that included murder, attempted murder, and terrorism.
Nwude is currently detained at the imaginatively titled Arkham Prison in Gotham City, Anambra State, awaiting his murder trial.