Lagos businessman bags two years imprisonment for stealing N18m
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of a Lagos Special Offences Court, Ikeja, yesterday, sentenced a cryptocurrency trader, Shola Henry, to two years imprisonment for stealing N18.460 million.
The judge found him guilty of stealing in a charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
While delivering judgment yesterday, Justice Taiwo gave the convict an option of fine in the sum of N2 million.
The convict was arraigned alongside his company, Henry Enterprise Concept on an amended seven-count charge, bordering on obtaining money under false pretenses and stealing by the EFCC .
The court discharged him from count one to six, bordering on obtaining money by false pretenses, but he was convicted on count seven, bordering on stealing by fraudulent conversion.
Justice Taiwo held that the business of cryptocurrency operates in an unpredictable environment.
The judge held that the defence was able to prove that the convict was paying his clients when the market was good, until it became unpredictable.
“The convict was liable to refund the money deposited to him for the cryptocurrency business by the depositor whether or not he is making money from the transaction,” the court held.
In his allocutus, the defence counsel, Adeola Onikosi, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy and for non-custodial sentence.
Onikosi told the court that the convict was a first time offender and has children who depend on him.
But the prosecutor, Ahmed Yerima, disagreed with the defence saying that the convict was a second time offender.
Yerima told the court to order the convict to make restitution to the nominal complainant and for forfeiture of items recovered from him.
After considering the allocutus of the defence counsel and submission of the prosecution, the judge convicted and sentenced the defendant as charged.
The judge also ordered the convict and his company, Henry Enterprise Concept to make restitution to the nominal complainant in the sum of N18.450 million within the next six months.
She further ordered that the convict’s iPhone be forfeited to the Federal Government.
During trial, the prosecution called five witnesses to prove his case against the convict.
The petitioner, a businessman, who testified as one of the witnesses, had told the court that he met the defendant through someone, who convinced him that the defendant could help make such mouth-watering returns on investment.
He told the court that afterwards, at different times he transferred money to the defendant totalling N18,450,000.
He said the defendant gave returns about two times but afterwards began to default in payment of returns until he declined to refund the capital investment as previously promised.
The defendant, the witness alleged, later reduced returns from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, yet he did not get any returns, nor did he get his initial investment back.
In his defence, the convict claimed that he was into cryptocurrency business, but that he was just an agent and not the actual trader.
He had told the court in his testimony that he was unable to give returns on investment “due to the crash in Bitcoin”, arguing that the cryptocurrency crashed sometime in 2018.
He said that one Abiodun Semawon Henry, his brother who he could not tell the court of his whereabouts, was the lead trader.