Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne said the authorities will arrest a Nigerian couple who are thought to be fleeing to the country after pulling off an N22billion fraud in Nigeria.
Antigua Observer reported that Browne spoke in response to claims that the Nigerian couple Bamise and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi had obtained citizenship from Antigua and Barbuda.
The prime minister said that while he is yet to verify the report, he promised that the alleged fraudsters will be captured if they enter the country.
He said that he heard “that he and his wife obtained Antiguan and Barbudan passports, citizenship under the CIP programme and now that person is now wanted for defrauding a number of Nigerians.”
“I have already put systems in place to ensure that if he is not here as yet that they could capture him on his way here because Antigua and Barbuda is not gonna be a refuge for scamps,” Browne said.
Browne reiterated that the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is not meant to attract criminals saying “our CIP programme is designed to attract and to incentivise investments, not to be a safe haven for crooks.
“This government will continue to do all in its power to ensure that those who violate and they seek refuge here that eventually they are repatriated from whence they came. It’s just a matter of time. Some of them may get temporary refuge here but we have no doubt that ultimately, they will be repatriated.”
The passports of the fleeing couple and their minor children surfaced on the internet earlier this week after reports emerged that they had fled Nigeria after their ponzi scheme Imagine Global Solutions Ltd collapsed, leaving thousands of investors stranded.
The passports also reportedly showed that the couple had planned their disappearance months in advance to avoid the suspicion of investors.
Data entries on their passports showed that the husband and one of their minor children procured their passports on the same day — April 29, 2021 while the wife procured her own passport a few days later on May 4, 2021.
The Ajetunmobis were only detected to have fled Nigeria last week.
They operated a company called Imagine Global, a micro-lending service to small and medium businesses, and offered 22 percent interest on loans and 10 percent returns to investors.
Hundreds of Nigerians who fell victim to the suspected Ponzi scheme operated by the couple have been narrating their ordeals online and called to government authorities to arrest the couple.
The victims have a Whatsapp group where they are mobilising on how to recover their lost funds.
A spokesman for Zuriel Consulting Limited, Imagine Global’s legal adviser told People’s Gazette three days ago that the law firm could not comment on investors’ funds and the disappearance of the couple.
“We have been hearing that the couple had fled Nigeria with investors’ funds,” Zuriel Consulting told The Gazette on Monday morning. “But we have no comments to make about the controversy at this point.”
The firm also said it would not confirm or debunk claims that the amount squandered was up to N22 billion.