The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has confirmed that the Nigerian couple, said to be on the run for duping thousands of investors out of about 22 billion naira, are in fact citizens of Antigua and Barbuda.
According to a recent release from the unit, “both Bamise Ajetunmobi and Elizabeth Ajetunmobi were granted citizenship in April 2021 having applied under the Citizenship by Investment Programme.”
The CIU however claims that their team of certified compliance specialists conducted “intense internal examination” of the couple before granting their application.
“A leading global due diligence firm conducted open source and in-country investigations on both Mr and Mrs Ajetunmobi as well as their company, Imagine Global Solutions Ltd.
At the conclusion of the investigations, nothing disparaging was identified with respect to the applicants nor their affiliate business interests. Their company was also duly registered and active,” the release continued.
It was also stated that their involvement in fraudulent or illegal activity did not come to light.
“No Interpol Red Notice had been issued for either Mr Bamise Ajetunmobi or Elizabeth Ajetunmobi. As such, at the issuance of citizenship, there was no adverse media, criminal or civil litigation, neither were there regulatory concerns associated with the applicants and their businesses,” the CIU added.
Since the matter has hit the media, the unit says it has “undertaken a review of the media reports and is awaiting the issuance of an official statement by the authorities in Nigeria.”
But thus far, it appears that no arrest warrants have been issued nor official proceedings against the couple initiated.
The unit pledged to provide further updates should additional information come to hand.
The Ajetunmobis were only detected to have fled Nigeria over the weekend of October 16.
They apparently 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.
Several victims on social media are said to have detailed how they lost as much as 500 million naira.
A WhatsApp group as well as a Nairaland forum had been created for those affected by the fraudulent scheme to pool resources towards recovering their investments.
Imagine Global, which was registered in 2017, stated on its website that it has a customer base of 90,000 Nigerians, but it was unclear how many of them were able to recoup their investments before the couple disappeared.
The Ajetunmobis reportedly fled to London, where a branch of Imagine Global was incorporated in August 2019.
Peoples Gazette had attempted to reach them but the company’s address in Lagos had been locked and telephone numbers for the couple failed to connect on Monday morning.
A spokesman for Zuriel Consulting Limited — Imagine Global’s legal adviser — said the law firm could not comment on investors’ funds and the disappearance of the couple, adding that it can neither deny nor confirm claims that the amount squandered was up to N22 billion.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has ordered that they be captured and repatriated if they come to Antigua and Barbuda.