Lagos court jails ex-convict 12 years for $1.4m fraud

The convict, Kolawole Erinle 

Justice R. A. Osodi of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, has convicted and sentenced a businessman, Kolawole Erinle, to 12 years imprisonment for $1.4m fraud.

Erinle and his company, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited were first arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos, on March 11, 2022.

Though he pleaded “not guilty”, the trial could not be concluded before the retirement of Justice Taiwo, thereby prompting the re-assignment of the case to Justice Oshodi.

He was subsequently re-arraigned on October 28, 2022, before Justice Oshodi on three-count charges bordering on conspiracy, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, and obtaining money under false pretence to the tune of $1,410,000.

One of the charges reads: “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle and Edward Dada (still at large), sometime in 2019, at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, conspired to falsely represent yourselves as J.E. Dunn, a local construction company in America, with intent to gain monetary advantage in the sum of $1,410,000 by creating a fake domain name jedunn.org and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No 14, 2006.”

Another count reads: “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited and Edward Dada (still at large) on or about May 3, 2019, at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this court, retain the control of $1,410,000 in your Access Bank account, which sum you knew to be proceeds of various internet and cybercrime.”

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He, again, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

In the course of the trial, prosecution counsel, T.J. Banjo called four witnesses, through whom several documentary evidence were presented to prove the case against him and his company.

The prosecution also presented evidence to prove that Erinle was an ex-convict in the United States, US, for bank fraud.

Justice Oshodi had, on February 10, 2023, revoked the bail earlier granted to the defendant, following an application by the prosecution showing that he never perfected the bail conditions granted earlier by Justice Taiwo.

After the prosecution had closed its case, Erinle took to the dock to defend himself.
Led in evidence by his counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN, he denied the allegations brought against him by the prosecution.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, he admitted that he was indeed an ex-convict in the US, and spent 23 months in prison.

He also expressed a change of mind to restitute his victim, saying, “I am sorry”.

Delivering judgment on September 26, 2023, Justice Oshodi declared the defendant and his company guilty as charged, and also held that the prosecution effectively proved the case against them beyond every reasonable doubt.

Justice Oshodi held that, as argued by the prosecution, Erinle, “spoofed the email address of the financial controller of J.E. Dunn, by faking the domain name of jedunn.com to jedunn.org”, an act which was “premeditated”, so that “when KCUMB was about to pay J.E. Dunn, you provided Bank of America details in the name of E. Dada Autos, and after the wire transfer of $1,412,509.40 into it, in March 2019, you caused the money to be transferred in tranches of $850,000 and $460,000 into the second convict’s account, which you also control”.

The trial judge further held, “The evidence shows that you transferred the proceeds of your crime to your nominees, including your mother, and your wife, and also acquired vehicles and other properties captured in exhibit P to P1.

“I have considered the prosecution’s submissions that you have a prior conviction for bank fraud in the United States of America, US.

“I have considered the fact that notwithstanding your prison term, which you have confirmed to me as sentencing for 23 months, you have not changed.

“I have considered the preceding as aggravating factors.

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“You also told me that you are sorry, but I do not believe that you are genuinely remorseful, but you have said it.”

Justice Oshodi sentenced him to five years on count two, and 12 years on count three.

The sentences are to run concurrently from February 10, 2023, when he was remanded by the court.

The company, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, was fined N50 million, and also ordered to be wound up by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, with the proceeds forfeited to the Federal Government.

The convicts were also ordered to make restitution to the victim.

The Judge also ordered that all the properties and vehicles recovered from them by the EFCC be sold and applied as restitution to the victim through the FBI.

The funds standing to his credit as recovered by the EFCC, and the company, the court added, “shall be applied as restitution for the victim by the FBI; this is without prejudice for the prosecution and the victim to secure a full restitution.”

Erinle’s journey to prison started when he was arraigned on three-count charges bordering on defrauding the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, KCUMB, in the United States of about $1,412,509.

The matter went into full trial and he was convicted.

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