The United States Government has levied criminal charges against Odogwu Banye Mmobuosi, a Nigerian fintech businessman, for his alleged involvement in a series of fraudulent activities. Mmobuosi, 45, the former co-CEO of Tingo Group, is facing charges related to securities fraud, false SEC filings, and conspiracy.
According to prosecutors, Mmobuosi falsely represented his Tingo Mobile cellular and Tingo Foods farm businesses as profitable, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The indictment suggests that he transferred both firms to Tingo Group and Agri-Fintech Holdings, misleadingly portraying them as lucrative enterprises. It is alleged that he misappropriated funds and sold stock at inflated prices, resulting in the unlawful acquisition of millions of dollars.
The alleged conspiracy took place between 2019 and 2023, according to prosecutors. An investigation by Hindenburg Research revealed major red flags, including fabricated financials, within Tingo Group, which claims to operate in various business segments such as mobile phones, food processing, and an online food marketplace in Nigeria.
Hindenburg Research’s comprehensive report unveiled concerns about Mmobuosi’s background, including a questionable claim of developing Nigeria’s first mobile payment app. The report also exposed instances where Tingo Group allegedly misrepresented its activities, such as claiming to have launched “Tingo Airlines” with photoshopped logos on airplane images.
In 2023, Dozy Mmobuosi gained media attention when he attempted to buy Sheffield United, a football club in England. Despite being described as a billionaire, Hindenburg Research’s investigation highlighted inconsistencies in his background and raised doubts about Tingo Group’s financial claims.
Tingo’s food division, in particular, faced scrutiny for claiming $577.2 million in revenue within seven months of its existence, with reported operating margins surpassing major comparable food companies. The company’s planned $1.6 billion Nigerian food processing facility, as showcased in investor materials, turned out to be a rendering of an oil refinery from a stock photo website.
Hindenburg Research discovered that despite Tingo’s SEC filing indicating “significant progress” on the facility, an on-site visit found no signs of development a week later. The site was described as empty, with only a plaque and billboard commemorating the groundbreaking ceremony, surrounded by weeds.
Tingo Group later debunked the investigation report by Hindenburg Research.
It stated that the report, “which contains numerous errors of fact, together with misleading and libellous content, appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the positive work that Tingo Group is undertaking across various worldwide markets”.
The statement further noted that “Tingo Group confirms that it remains in compliance with the laws of the territories in which it operates and maintains the highest standards of corporate governance. The Company also confirms that its accounting records are accurate and correct and that its financial results are accurately reported within its financial statements and its SEC filings.”