The United States government has arrested and charged a Nigerian man for allegedly operating an unlicensed money transfer business to launder the proceeds of online investment fraud schemes.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement on Thursday, that the 31-year-old accused, Tochukwu Edeh, was charged with one count before a federal court in Boston. 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 crypto currencies 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.
He 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.
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.