How Buying Forex From Anonymous Source Landed Oil Trader Wagbatsoma In International Money Laundering Trial

Mr. Walter Wagbatsoma

BEVERLY HILLS, July 1, (THEWILL) – Nigerian oil trader, Mr. Walter Wagbatsoma, Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Ltd, has been charged in the United Kingdom by the Economic Crime Unit of Lincolnshire Police, in connection with a £12 million NHS trusts fraud investigation.

THEWILL can report that the multi-millionaire businessman was detained in Germany on Monday 6th June 2016, following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant by Lincolnshire Police and was extradited to the UK on Thursday 30th June where he was charged with conspiracy to launder money and appeared at Lincoln Magistrates Court on Friday 1st July.

THEWILL further understands that the investigation, named Operation Tarlac, commenced in September 2011 following a report of fraud and money laundering in excess of £12m involving Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

In September 2015, 15 suspects were charged with offences of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and conspiracy and all have since been indicted to stand trial.

“Thelincolnite listed the indicted as follows: Oluwatoyin Allison, 48, from London; Stephen Tyndale, 45, from Southwark, London; James Eman, 33, from Redditch; Ali Akbar, 31, from Redditch; Arif Habib, 54, of Bearsden, Glasgow; Asif Habib, 51, of Dubai; Monica Thomson, 38, from Airdrie and Imtiaz Khoda, 42, from Dubai. They are all accused of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money between January 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012.”

They are also alleged to have conspired together with Bayo Awonorin and others to defraud public bodies and other organisations, by dishonestly inducing or seeking to induce such bodies and/or organisations to divert monies due to be paid to companies holding construction contracts with the said public bodies and/or organisations, into bank accounts which were not in fact in the name of, or under the control of, the companies entitled to received such payments.

All nine together with Abdul Ghaffar, 66, from Redditch; Tariq Khan, 33, from Dubai; Zahid Muhammed, 46, from Glasgow; Yagnesh Patel, 44, from Staines, Middlesex, and Shazia Nisa, 33, face a further charge of conspiracy to launder money between January 1, 2011 and July 31, 2012.

They are alleged to have conspired with another Nigerian, Bayo Awonorin and Zia Malak and others, to convert and/or transfer criminal property knowing or intending that the same property constituted or represented, in whole or in part-directly or indirectly, his own or another person’s benefit from criminal conduct.

Also, a 15th defendant, another Nigerian, Oghogho Ehanire, 41, of Preston, is accused of money laundering between June 14, 2011 and December 31, 2011.

However, checks by THEWILL reveal that Wagbatsoma may have unknowingly purchased “dirty” foreign exchange from an anonymous source through an intermediary in Dubai without proper due diligence on the source of the funds before it was wired into his company’s offshore trading account.

“Unknown to him, the FOREX was part of the NHS trusts fund being investigated in the UK which was later traced to his account as the investigation continued,” one source with knowledge of the investigations said.

THEWILL further gathered that Wagbatsoma was first contacted about the investigation by the British authorities several months back and had been cooperating with investigators and even hired attorneys to represent him in the matter.

“We are shocked that he was detained in Germany on a red notice by Interpol on the matter,” another source said.

Wagbatsoma may not be the only one ‘guilty’ of buying Forex from anonymous sources as it is a common practice for most well to do Nigerians to source FOREX independently abroad due to its scarcity back home in Nigeria.

All one has to do is find a seller, with a favourable disposition to the naira, and give them the naira equivalent of the transaction and the Forex is credited into one’s account.

However, Wagbatsoma’s case should serve as a lesson because the cleanliness of the Forex gotten from anonymous and un-official sources cannot be guaranteed.

If the source of the money is under investigation or linked to proceeds of corruption such as money laundering, it will be traced to the account and the buyer can be implicated.

Story by David Oputah with agency report.