Odogwu 'Dozy' Mmobuosi, co-CEO of Tingo, an African-focused agritech startup listed on the US stock exchange, has temporarily stepped down following fraud charges filed against him by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company publicly announced this decision on Thursday, December 21, 2023.
"By mutual agreement with the Company's Board of Directors, Mmobuosi will remain stood down until cleared of the allegations made against him," according to a statement seen by Bendada.com. Tingo's other co-CEO, Ken Denos, will serve as its interim group CEO until further notice.
On Monday, Mmobuosi, as well as three other US-based entities affiliated with Tingo—Tingo Group Inc, Agri-Fintech Holdings Inc., and Tingo International Holdings Inc, were charged by SEC "in connection with an alleged multi-year scheme to inflate the financial performance metrics of these companies and key operating subsidiaries to defraud investors worldwide".
"Mmobuosi and the entities he controls have fraudulently obtained hundreds of millions in money or property through these schemes, and Mmobuosi has siphoned off funds for his benefit, including purchases of luxury cars and travel on private jets, as well as an unsuccessful attempt to acquire an English Football Club Premier League team, among other things," says SEC.
The regulator also accused him of "lying to auditors, insider trading, and failing to file Forms 4 disclosing the sales of millions of Agri-Fintech common stock for which he was the ultimate beneficial owner".
According to a statement from Tingo, "the Company intends to vigorously defend itself in relation to the SEC complaint."
"The Company and its Board of Directors are in turn committed to undertaking further investigation and responding to the complaint, supported by leading legal counsel, while at the same time making every effort to protect the business and shareholder value and continuing to execute the Company’s growth plans," the statement added.
Following an investigation by Hindenburg Research, which labelled Tingo as an "exceptionally obvious scam with completely fabricated financials," the agritech company conducted an independent investigation. The findings, according to Tingo, revealed that the allegations were erroneous.
The SEC suspended trading in Tingo Group shares on November 14. As investigations continue, the SEC has issued a temporary restraining order which will allow it to freeze Mmobuosi's assets.