The Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court, Ikeja, Lagos State, on Tuesday, sentenced a forex trader, Shola Henry, to two years’ imprisonment for stealing.
The convict had been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after it received a petition from a businessman, Anyasi Matthew, who claimed that Henry defrauded him of the sum of N20m in the guise of investing the money in forex with 20 per cent profit in 30 days.
The defendant was subsequently arraigned on August 8, 2020, on amended six counts bordering on obtaining by false pretences and stealing contrary to Section 1 (3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006, and Section 285 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During the court sitting, the prosecution team, led by Ahmed Yerima, called five witnesses through whom documentary evidence was tendered against Henry and his company.
The petitioner, who testified as the first prosecution witness, told the court that he met the defendant through a friend, Godwin Umoru, who told him that the defendant could help him make mouth-watering returns on his investment.
Matthew said a sum of N1m was initially transferred to the defendant’s account “just to find out if it was genuine” and he received returns from Henry.
The petitioner said he transacted with the defendant about six to seven times.
Matthew said the defendant gave him returns on the money as promised, but after he increased the investment to N5m and later N20m, the defendant stopped giving returns.
Henry, while defending himself, stated that he was into cryptocurrency as a middle man, adding that the scheme crashed in 2018.
He noted that his brother, Abiodun, who was at large, was the lead trader.
Delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo noted that the so-called cryptocurrency business was nothing but a Ponzi scheme.
Justice Taiwo further held that based on the evidence before the court, the allegation of obtaining by false pretences was not proved by the prosecution and so discharged and acquitted the defendant on counts one to five.
The judge, however, held that the prosecution proved the charge of stealing, found the defendant guilty as charged and sentenced him to two years in prison.
Following the allocutus of the defence counsel, Adeola Onikosi, the defendant was given a fine option of N2m and ordered to restitute the N20m to the victim.
The defendant’s company was also fined N1m and given one year to make restitution to Matthew.