Emmanuel Nwude – The Biggest Scammer in The History of Nigeria

The story of Emmanuel Nwude and the non-existent airport that he managed to sell as a legitimate business is downright fascinating and astonishing.

Known as the biggest scam in the history of Nigeria or the “419 scam”, Emmanuel Nwude’s fraud was an important lesson for banks, governments, as well as for different individuals to be vigilant when it comes to unethical business.

Keep reading to find out how Emmanuel Nwude created the non-existing airport scam, how he was caught, what sentence he received, and where he is now.

Emmanuel Nwude
Emmanuel Nwude © GTres

Who is Emmanuel Nwude?

Born in 1962 in Nigeria, Emmanuel Nwude is a businessman and former director of the Union Bank of Nigeria. He is mainly popular as being one of the biggest scammers in Nigeria who managed to create the biggest banking frauds in the world. He is also known as Owelle of Abagana.

What did Emmanuel Nwude do?

In 1995, Emmanuel Nwude set up one of the biggest scams in the history of Nigeria.

Nwude made a lot of use of the knowledge and contacts accumulated from when he worked as a director of the Union Bank of Nigeria. So, Nwude started to pretend to be Paul Ogwuma, who worked as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1993 and 1999.

Emmanuel Nwude impersonating Paul Ogwuma went to Brazil’s Banco Noroeste and presented to the head of the bank, Mr. Nelson Sakaguchi, a new business that included the construction of a new airport in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

Mr. Sakaguchi decided to invest and pay $191 million in cash in this business, which brought him $10 million in commission.

In 1997, during the takeover of Banco Noroeste Brazil by the Spanish Banco Santander, questions began to appear regarding the investment that took place in 1995. Banco Santander specialists began to analyze all transactions and discovered that two-fifths of Noroeste’s total value and half of their capital, which was invested in 1995 in an airport, was in an account in the Cayman Islands.

After this discovery, a criminal investigation began that took place not only in Nigeria but also in the territory of Brazil, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the United States.

Unfortunately for the owner of Noroeste Bank, he had to pay $242 million. After paying this bill in 2001, Noroeste bank collapsed.

Emmanuel Nwude Sentence

In 2002, the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which dealt with the investigation of the scam made by Emmanuel Nwude. The first verdict was pronounced in February 2004 when Amaka Anajemba, Emmanuel Nwude, Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe were arrested and charged with 86 counts of “fraudulently seeking advance fees” and 15 other counts of bribery. However, they all decided to plead not guilty, but at the same time, they tried to bribe members of the supreme court.

After this verdict in Abuja, the case was moved to the Lagos High Court, where Nwude was again accused of bribery in 2005. This time, he tried to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, the head of the commission, with $75,000 in cash.

Nelson Sakaguchi also took part in the process and was one of the witnesses. After Sakaguchi’s testimony, Emmanuel Nwude decided to plead guilty. The verdict for Nwude this time consisted of a sentence of 29 years in prison, the confiscation of his assets, and a fine of $10 million to the Nigerian Federal Government.

Emmanuel Nwude was released from prison in 2006 and started a lawsuit to recover his seized assets because he claimed that those assets were accumulated before the fraud was committed. He managed to reclaim $52 million.

What happened to Emmanuel Nwude?

Emmanuel Nwude still has problems with the law. In 2016, Emmanuel Nwude was arrested again because a state police command in Anambra identified him as the leader of a group of 200 people who attacked the town of Ukpo and killed four policemen. This time, Emmanuel Nwude received 27 charges, including murder, attempted murder, and terrorist attack, but he did not stay long in prison, being released on bail in December 2016.

In 2021, Emmanuel Nwude returned to the courtroom with two lawyers named Emmanuel Ilechukwu and Roland Kalu. During that trial, he said that he does not know the source or how the $242 million ended up in his account. Both Nwude and the lawyers have 15 counts of falsifying property documents. The trial was postponed until May 24, 2021.

Who sold a non-existing airport?

The Nigerian Businessman, Emmanuel Nwude, succeeded in fooling the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to invest $242 million in a non-existing airport. Nwude did not build an airport, but he used the money for himself to buy luxury cars, homes, and land.

Emmanuel Nwude Net Worth

Emmanuel Nwude’s net worth is not known for sure. He managed to defraud the Noroeste bank of $242 million, but part of this amount and different luxury items were confiscated by the government during the trial. However, in 2016, Emmanuel Nwude managed to reclaim the amount of $52 million that was seized in the previous years.

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