On Tuesday, January 2, the US officially issued a formal notice (indictment) charging Odogwu 'Dozy' Mmobuosi, co-CEO of Tingo, an African-focused agritech startup, with securities fraud, making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), and conspiracy charges.
Mmobuosi who stepped down as co-CEO of the company last month in response to fraud charges filed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, is still at large, according to the US Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York.
The indictment notice shared that 45-year-old, Mmobuosi has been charged with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, one count of securities fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of making false filings with the SEC, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. It’s important to note here that the actual sentencing period for Mmobuosi depends on what the judge prescribes at the end of the court case.
“From at least in or about 2019 through in or about 2023, ODOGWU BANYE MMOBUOSI orchestrated a scheme to enrich himself by falsely representing that Nigerian companies he founded, Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods, were operational, profitable businesses generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue respectively.” the statement read.
“MMOBUOSI then sold Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods to companies listed in the United States, including Tingo Group (listed on Nasdaq as “TIO”) and Agri-Fintech Holdings (traded in the Over-the-Counter Markets under symbol “TMNA”). As a result, MMOBUOSI caused Tingo Group and Agri-Fintech to issue financial statements that falsely portrayed Tingo Mobile and Tingo Foods to be cash-rich, revenue-generating companies when, in fact, they were not. MMOBUOSI then looted Tingo Group and Agri-Fintech by misappropriating cash from those companies and engaged in well-timed sales of their shares at inflated prices, generating millions of dollars of profits from his scheme.”
SEC suspended trading in Tingo Group shares on November 14. As investigations continue, it also issued a temporary restraining order that will enable it to freeze Mmobuosi's assets.