The trial of one Marco Antonio Ramirez, an American businessman, before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos for an alleged $368,698.24 fraud continued on May 12, 2022, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) closing its case after calling its last witness.
Ramirez is facing an amended nine-count charge alongside his companies: USA NOW LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP.
One of the counts reads: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, on or about the 26th day of July, 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $250,000 from Gabriel Ogie Edeoghon under the false representation that the sum was his investment in your company: USA NOW Energy Capital Group LP in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) United States of America Investor Programme, which investment would qualify him to be eligible to a USA Green Card, and which representation you knew to be false.”
Another count reads: “Marco Antonio Ramirez, on or about the 5th day of March, 2014 at Lagos, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $50,281.33 from Oludare Talabi, under the false representation that the said sum is to procure United States of America L1 VISA programme for him, which representation you knew to be false.”
He pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges.
At Thursday’s proceedings, the prosecuting counsel, S.O. Daji, presented the prosecution’s last witness, Ayotunde Solademi, who works with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Office of the Legal Attache in the US Consulate.
Solademi said: “Sometime in 2016, the Office of the Legal Attache in Nigeria received a letter from the EFCC, containing a request that the FBI should assist the EFCC to find out about the EB-5 Investor Immigrant Programme. Also to know if USA Now LLC has the right to issue out the EB-5 Investor Immigrant visa to Nigerians. The FBI investigated the matter relating to questions that were asked.”
According to him, following the conclusion of investigations, a reply of the findings was sent to the EFCC.
He added: “We responded to the EFCC based on our search and people interviewed. The main crux of our finding was that Nigeria is not a participant of the EB-5 Investor Immigrant Programme.
“And if Nigeria is not a participant, then, no company has been given the licence or right to give out the visa to them.”
He, thereafter, identified the FBI correspondence with the EFCC, as the prosecution sought to tender it.
There was no objection from the defence, and it was admitted in evidence as Exhibit P19.
Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN, the new counsel for the defendant, the witness testified that Ramirez was, in fact, also wanted in the United States to stand trial for some other charges against him.
“Sometime in 2018, the FBI wanted the EFCC to return the defendant to the US to face charges against him,” he further said.
After the cross-examination, the prosecution informed the Court that it was closing its case.
Thereafter, Justice Dada adjourned till June 24, 2022 for the defence to open its case.