Three Nigerian nationals are accused of using money laundering funds to buy more than $43 million worth of bitcoin on cryptocurrency exchange platforms such as Binance and Busha. The trio is accused of moving the equivalent of more than $215 million from Nigeria to Kenya between October and November 2020.
An influential Kenyan politician helps alleged money launderers
The global law enforcement agency Interpol is seeking to complete a case in which three Nigerian nationals are believed to have used money laundering proceeds to buy more than $43 million in bitcoins, according to the report. The three Kenyans, including an unnamed influential Kenyan politician, are accused of helping the Nigerian trio in their efforts to conceal the exact motive for moving funds.
According to a Kenyan Nation report, an Interpol investigation revealed that the trio may have moved more than $215 million (25 billion Kenyan shillings) from Nigeria to Kenya between October and November 2020.
Once the funds were in Kenya, the trio-Olubunmi Akinyemiju, Olufemi Olukunmi Demuren, and Egosasere Nehihare- went out to buy bitcoins. During this series of purchases, the trio purchased bitcoins, then valued at $36,353,728, from the U.S.-registered arm of Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges by trading volume. Another $7,246,582 was used to buy bitcoins on Busha, another cryptocurrency exchange.
Authorities froze six bank accounts
After purchasing the bitcoins, the trio is believed to have distributed the cryptocurrencies to separate wallets in an attempt to make them untraceable, according to the report. However, the Kenyan publication said it could not ascertain the exact number of bitcoins purchased by the Nigerian trio on Kenya’s Bitpesa cryptocurrency exchange and on Quidax.
The report states that the Nigerian trio managed to successfully transfer funds under the pretense that they were “transfers of funds from the same company.” However, the size of the fund transfers ultimately piqued Interpol’s interest.
Following an Interpol investigation, the Kenya Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) reportedly obtained a court order authorizing it to freeze six bank accounts belonging to six companies linked to the alleged money launderers.
Meanwhile, the Nation report named Pauline Wanjiru Wachira and Evalin Wawira Gachoki as two Kenyan nationals who may have helped the Nigerian trio move laundered funds.
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