The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed fraud charges against Odogwu 'Dozy' Mmobuosi, the founder and CEO of the embattled, Nigerian and Nasdaq-listed agritech startup Tingo.
Dozy, as well as three other U.S-based entities affiliated with Tingo—Tingo Group Inc, Agri-Fintech Holdings Inc., and Tingo International Holdings Inc, have been charged "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", according to a statement seen by Bendada.com.
This comes a few weeks after the SEC temporarily suspended trading of Tingo Group's shares. With the new announcement, the commission says it is seeking urgent intervention to halt the ongoing spread of significantly inaccurate information to investors by Tingo and other defendants and safeguard both corporate and investor assets.
Dozy founded Tingo in 2001. Per the SEC’s complaint, since the company’s existence, he has led a plot to create fraudulent financial statements and related documents for the three entities and their Nigerian operating subsidiaries, namely Tingo Mobile Limited and Tingo Foods PLC.
“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.
Aside from violating anti-fraud provisions of the United States securities law, the SEC also charged Mmobuosi with “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”.
As part of its ruling, SEC is seeking a temporary restraining order which will allow it to freeze Mmobuosi’s assets; “prohibit TIH, Agri-Fintech and Tingo Group from transferring money or property or issuing shares to Mmobuosi; enjoin Defendants from selling or otherwise disposing of their respective holding in Agri-Fintech and Tingo Group stock; prohibit Defendants and their agents from destroying, altering, or concealing records and documents; and order Defendants to show cause why a preliminary injunction continuing the relief outlined in any temporary restraining order as well as ordering repatriation of proceeds and a sworn accounting should not be entered.”
The ongoing investigation by the SEC into Tingo is being conducted by Michael DiBattista, Christopher Mele, David Zetlin-Jones, Jeremy Brandt, Stephen Johnson, Elizabeth Baier, Gerald Gross, and Rebecca Reilly, supervised by Tejal D. Shah, all based at the SEC's New York Regional Office. Leading the litigation are Mr. Zetlin-Jones, Mr. DiBattista, and Mr. Brandt.
This is a developing article