A young Nigerian entrepreneur featured on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine as one of the top 30 young African entrepreneurs has been arrested by the FBI.
Obinwanne Okeke, the billionaire founder of Invictus Group, was allegedly arrested by the FBI for conspiracy to commit fraud amounting to $11 million according to a Twitter thread by one of Nigeria’s social media influencers, Tolu Ogulesi.
The FBI in June 2018 received complaints from Unatrac, an international subsidiary of heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, that Okeke got unauthorized access to the e-mail account of its chief financial officer and was behind a series of fake invoices totaling $11 million.
Okeke seemed to be thriving as an entrepreneur while doing interviews with international media outlets including the BBC’s Focus on Africa.
Okeke’s Invictus Group claims to invest in real estate, energy and construction, operating in at least three African countries including Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.
The news caught Nigerians by surprise on Twitter and many expressed shock and disbelief that Okeke had been involved in online fraud.
There is, however, very little news about the FBI arrest outside of Nigerian news sources.
Considering Okeke’s high profile, including being invited to speak at the London School of Economics African Summit in 2018, this would be a breaking news story for the media outlets that covered his rise and entrepreneurial successes.
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Okeke’s arrest is expected to send shockwaves across Nigeria’s emerging startup ecosystem.
Startups in Africa’s largest economy raised $178 million in 2018, according to Tech Point Africa. Tech startups in the country got more funding during that year than any other country.