The Nigerian oil official mentioned in the $800,000 fraud case involving wind turbine energy giant Nordex, Dr Kelechi Ofoegbu,says he was not involved in any wrongdoing.
He implored both Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police and INTERPOL to investigate the matter further to prove his innocence.
In a written statement, Dr. Ofoegbu, who is the Executive Commissioner, Economic Regulation and Strategic Planning of NUPRC, said hackers used their email access to Mountain Crane and sent an invoice totalling $1.75 million to Nordex, which then unwittingly paid the hackers over $800,000.
According to him,thoe Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) which was notified of the transaction traced $50,000 of the money to an account operated by Dr Ofoegbu, an Executive Commissioner in charge of Economic Regulation and Strategic Planning at the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
Dr Ofoegbu, in a petition dated November 3, 2023, sent to the Inspector General of Police, denied any involvement in the fraudulent transaction. He stated how a legitimate transaction with registered Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in Abuja ended up with a transfer of money to his account from illegitimate sources.
The petition which had NPF-INTERPOL in copy gave a comprehensive explanation of how a legitimate transfer he made through Yahaya Shuaibu Mohammed and Musa Babangida Jubril operating a Bureau de Change business opposite Abuja Continental Hotel, in Abuja, to fund his account in the USA, eventually got entangled with the activities of fraudsters.
Dr. Ofoegbu, in the petition explained that in funding his foreign accounts he sometimes resorts to licensed BDCs who exchange the naira component for foreign currency from commercial banks in Nigeria since the Central Bank of Nigeria has prioritised the Investors and Exporters FX window and allows for FX trades to be made at market-determined exchange rates.
Maintaining that this process can be verified since courts in Nigeria have taken judicial notice of the same, Ofoegbu explained that he needed funds in his accounts in the United Kingdom and USA to pay his children’s school fees in those countries, which was why he approached the BDC in Nigeria to pay the dollar equivalent of the local currency he provided to his account in JP Morgan Chase.
Dr Ofoegbu said though his account in JP Morgan Chase was credited in two separate transactions on April 27, 2023, he was unable to access the money as the bank had placed a hold on the account in the sum of $50,000, even as it would not disclose the reasons for doing so until some investigations were concluded.
He maintained that he had nothing to do with the untoward transaction that followed after the Abuja transaction and “I have no knowledge whatsoever of the identity of the depositors in the United States of America, nor have I ever had any commercial dealings with anyone or entity in the USA.”
He indicated that he was only notified on July 27, 2023, through a letter dated July 20, 2023 from the FBI captioned “Notice of seizure of property and initiation of administrative forfeiture of proceedings,” that the sum of $50,000 traced to his account has been seized.
It also informed him of the intention of FBI to commence administrative forfeiture of the amount as an Affidavit deposed to by an FBI agent has already recommended the forfeiture.
Dr. Ofoegbu stated, that it became evident that he had been defrauded by Mr Yahaya Shuaibu Muhammad and Mr Musa Babangida Jubril, whereupon he is now seeking the intervention of the INTERPOL to investigate the matter thoroughly in Nigeria and liaise with the FBI to clear him of any wrongdoing as well as facilitate the return of his money by the two BDC agents.