The Nigeria Police Force has finally arrested and arraigned Mr Bamise Samson Ajetunmobi, the owner of Imagine Global Holding Company Ltd and Imagine Global Solutions who scammed many Nigerians last year.
According to the police, Bamise was arrested in Côte d’Ivoire while trying to board a flight to the UK. Bamise and his wife Elizabeth had conned investors, defrauding them of billions of naira of which N11,795 billion was the outstanding investments and return on investments accruing to the investors.
The suit was filed by 27 aggrieved Nigerians who were scammed by the couple and their companies, Imagine Global Holding Company Ltd and Imagine Global Solutions.
What happened in court: following a court order, he was brought before the Lagos High Court sitting in Osborne, Ikoyi on Thursday.
At Thursday’s hearing, The judge told counsel in the suit, that the case file had been moved to the appeal section for compilation.
He then adjourned till May 15 for further proceeding. The case was first before Justice Toyin Oyekan-Abdullahi but following her retirement, the case was transferred to Justice Rasul Olukolu.
The backstory: The couple started the business in 2016 with Mr Bamise who was a banker pooling money from colleagues and friends and then lending the money to traders and market women looking for soft and unsecured loans.
His first set of clients were his former coworkers and he was able to convince them to trust him with their cash in exchange for a 10% monthly ROI payout.
Soon enough, even Commercial bank branch managers rushed to Mr Bamise with their life savings. Many of them also persuaded clients whose accounts they were managing, to invest with Mr Bamise.
He resigned from the bank to face the business full-time as the business took off.
In 2017 he founded the company named Imagine Global Solutions Limited with hopes of becoming a major money lender by offering microloans to the unbanked, small and medium-sized companies, and low-income workers throughout Africa and the rest of the globe.
The company offered loan disbursements ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 on a 30-to-40-day cycle and needed a minimum investment of N100 million from investors, with an interest rate ranging from 6% to 36% depending on the capital amount paid monthly or as negotiated.
The company claimed its business model was based on 4 key metrics. Using his microlending subsidiary, TFS Finance Ltd, they target “traders who sell fast-moving goods daily”, conduct “due diligence”, disburse the loans often between N10k and N100k over a 30-40-day cycle. Repayment is collected a day after the loan is disbursed through daily repayments.
The business investor base grew from about 30 investors to over 90,000 investors within 5 years. The loan portfolio also grew from about N5 million to about N11 billion within this period.
The business came crashing in August 2021, when they failed to pay investors any return. when investors did not see the accustomed alerts, they grew worried prompting a showdown meeting with some of its major investors.
An emergency meeting was held between Ajetunmobi and their largest investors who needed answers for smaller investors to whom they were answerable.
At the meeting, investors probed the management of the company over the missed payments demanding that the company provide a statement showing where all the funds have been invested.
Mr Ajetunmobi insisted that the missed payment was a blip and that things will quickly return to normal by September.
By September, the alerts once again did not drop forcing yet another string of meetings with Mr Ajetunmobi. By then, it was obvious that the company was facing serious challenges in meeting its monthly payments. Investors then suggested that he cut rates from 10% to about 3%, a logical sacrifice if it meant that they at least get their capital back.
By October 1, Mr Ajetunmobi then cut the interest rate to 7%, promising to make things right.
News broke out on social media about a couple who had allegedly conned investors, defrauding them of an estimated N22 billion.
Several investors of the company took to social media alleging that the company defrauded them of their investments
Aggrieved with the turnout of events, some investors approached the court and instituted a lawsuit against the couple who were said to be on the run and their companies – Imagine Global Holding Company Ltd and Imagine Global Solutions.
On October 15, 2021, the counsel to investors who were 27 in number brought before the court an ex-parte motion seeking to freeze the accounts of Ajetunmobi and their companies
On October 28, the Lagos state high court restrained the couple and their company from accessing funds in 21 commercial banks in Nigeria over the alleged N22 billion scam.
The court restrained them from dealing with monies standing to their credit in any accounts in the bank to the tune of N11.795 billion pending the determination of the Mareva application filled by applicants.
In July 2022, the judge ordered the couple and their companies to pay the 27 aggrieved Nigerian investors who were scammed by them, N18.8 billion. This was broken down to N15.5 billion for the 1st to 17th claimants’ and N3.3 Billion to the 18th to 27th claimants.