Nigerian billionaire, Obinwanne Okeke, popularly known as Invictus Obi, will be sentenced today February 15 by a Virginia Court in the United States after pleading guilty to two charges of Internet fraud in the US that caused $11m losses to his victims.
Invictus who was once listed on the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30, was nabbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which alleged he connived with certain individuals, some of whom remain at large, to defraud American companies and individuals over a period of at least four years.
After months of denying his involvement in the crime before a federal judge in the U.S. and argument over jurisdiction, he pleaded guilty to the allegation of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with American authorities last year June.
The defendant who had investments in oil and gas, agriculture, private equity, alternative energy, telecom and real estate had operated his holdings under the ‘Invictus Group’ and had presence in three countries including Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
The guilty plea helped Mr Okeke, who was initially indicted on two counts of computer and wire fraud, to secure the withdrawal of the second charge that carries lesser sentence and fines.
As part of his deal with the U.S. government, he would now enjoy immunity from prosecution on the same matter in the U.S. Eastern District of Virginia.
Ahead of his sentencing today, his family members, an employee, a pastor, and others had flooded a U.S. court with appeals for leniency.
In a series of letters of attestation to character sent to Rebecca Smith, the judge handling the case at a Virginia court, they expressed shock about the involvement of Mr Okeke in the unlawful activities and pleaded he be given a second chance. They also pledged he would not take part in any unlawful act again.
Okeke however risks being handed a 20-year jail sentence with up to $250,000 in fines amongst other punishment.