Nwude, the Man that sold a nonexistent Airport for $242M

Meet Emmanuel Nwude; The Nigerian Man That Sold An Airport That Doesn’t Exist For $242 Million.

Emmanuel Nwude pulled off one of the largest banking frauds, and what shocked the world was that; he did this before the current internet banking system. This is what happened.

In the year 1995, Nwude, who was the former director in one of Nigeria’s largest banks, along with some other people, exploited the knowledge of their local and international banking operations to pull off a big scam. Of course, they had someone on the inside that helped them to achieve their plan. Nelson Sakaguchi, who was the Director of a Brazilian Bank known as Banco Noroeste, was also used as a pawn to achieve their plan.

Based on the fact that he has been a bank director and was regularly interacting with the Central Bank Governor, Nwude contacted Mr Sakaguchi about a new airport that Nigeria intended to build in it’s capital, Abuja.

Mr Sakaguchi was supposed to get $10million as his commission if the deal pulls through. So Mr Sakaguchi quickly released a total of $191 million in cash and there was also an outstanding payment to be made for the financing of the proposed airport project, of an airport that doesn’t exist.

It will shock you to know that nobody discovered Nwude’s scam until the year 1997, when Spanish Banco Santander were conducting investigations because they wanted to take over Banco Noroeste.

They held a joint board meeting and the representatives of the Spanish bank were wondering what half of the Brazilian bank’s capital was doing in an unmonitored account in Cayman Island. Their investigation started from Brazil to the UK before it finally led them to Nigeria, and then to Switzerland and the United States. They finally uncovered the Fraud. 

The military government in Nigeria at that time, didn’t pay much attention to fraud cases. But the return of the Democratic rule brought up the case again as the country was trying to restore it’s poor image in the international community. The government set up the EFCC in the year 2002 to specifically tackle this case and other financial crimes. 

By 2004, the no-nonsense head of the EFCC finally succeeded to arraign all members of the crime, and by 2005, after the confession of one of the arrested fraudsters to get lighter sentence, he was given a two and half year sentence and an ordered to pay $25.5 million.

In the course of the trial, various attempts to disrupt the proceedings with a bomb scare and an attempt to kidnap people was made. The EFCC chairman at that time, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, even showed the $75,000 that was offered to him as bribe, which he did not accept. They added the charges of bribery and kidnap to the already existing charges of Mr Nwude.

After Nwude realised that his game was over, he plead guilty in return for a lighter sentence. They sentenced him to 5 years in jail and seized all his assets. 

The Nigerian government also paid a fine of $10 million to the people that he scammed. He regained his freedom in the year 2006 and he immediately filed a case to reclaim his assets, claiming that he acquired some of them before his criminal act. He successfully reclaimed at least assets worth $52 million. 

Mr Nwude didn’t enjoy his freedom for long, he was involved in another m*rder,attempted m*rder , in an issue that he had with someone in his community.



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