A Lagos judge has handed down a conviction and a twelve-year prison sentence to businessman Kolawole Erinle for his involvement in a $1.4 million fraud case.
According to a statement released on October 6th by the Acting Head of Media and Publicity at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Dele Oyewale, Erinle and his company, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, were initially arraigned before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja, Lagos on March 11, 2022.
Erinle pleaded “not guilty,” but due to the retirement of Justice Taiwo, the case was later reassigned to Justice Rahman Oshodi of the Special Offences Court in Ikeja. Erinle was re-arraigned on October 28, 2022, facing three counts of conspiracy, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, and obtaining money under false pretense amounting to $1,410,000.
One of the charges stated, “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle and Edward Dada (still at large), sometime in 2019, in Lagos, conspired to falsely represent yourselves as J.E. Dunn, a local construction company in America, with intent to gain monetary advantage in the sum of $1,410,000 by creating a fake domain name jedunn.org and thereby committed an offense contrary to Section 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offenses Act No 14, 2006.”
The prosecution presented evidence that Erinle was also an ex-convict in the United States for bank fraud.
Another charge read, “Kolawole Adedayo Erinle, Rinde-Remdex Nigeria Limited, and Edward Dada (still at large) on or about May 3rd, 2019, in Lagos, retained the control of $1,410,000 in your Access Bank account, which sum you knew to be proceeds of various internet and cybercrime.”
Erinle pleaded “not guilty” once again.
During the trial, prosecution counsel T.J. Banjo called four witnesses who presented several documentary pieces of evidence supporting the case against Erinle and his company.
On February 10, 2023, Justice Oshodi revoked Erinle’s bail after the prosecution demonstrated that he had not met the conditions set by Justice Taiwo.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Erinle admitted to being an ex-convict in the US and serving 23 months in prison. He also expressed a change of heart and a willingness to compensate his victim, stating, “I am sorry.”
On September 26, 2023, Justice Oshodi delivered the verdict, finding Erinle and his company guilty as charged and concluding that the prosecution had successfully proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Justice Oshodi declared that Erinle had “spoofed the email address of the financial controller of J.E. Dunn by faking the domain name of jedunn.com to jedunn.org,” an act that was premeditated. Erinle then provided Bank of America details in the name of E. Dada Autos to receive the wire transfer of $1,412,509.40 in tranches of $850,000 and $460,000 into the account of the second convict, which he also controlled.
The judge regarded Erinle’s prior conviction for bank fraud in the United States, his lack of change despite serving a prison term, and the evidence of his involvement in transferring the proceeds of his crime to his mother and wife, as aggravating factors.
Although Erinle expressed remorse, Justice Oshodi doubted the sincerity of his apology.
Consequently, Erinle was sentenced to five years on count two and twelve years on count three.