N2 Billion Investment Fraud: How a Woman, The Famzhi CEO , was Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison


N2 Billion Investment Fraud: How a Woman, The Famzhi CEO , was Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

By Taiye Agbaje


Mariam Suleiman, the Chairman and Managing Director of Famzhi Interbiz Ltd, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years in prison without the option of a fine for defrauding investors of over N2 billion.


Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja found Suleiman and her company guilty of the charges brought against them by the Federal Government in counts one and two.


“Under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 56(6) of the Securities and Investment Act, the terms of punishment were explained to the defendants,” said Justice Ekwo. “After considering the arguments from the defense counsel, I decided not to impose the maximum sentence on the 1st defendant (Suleiman).”


Suleiman was sentenced to three years in prison for count one and two years for count two, with the sentences to run concurrently from the date of the judgment. The court also ordered the company to be dissolved and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.


“The properties will be sold, and the proceeds used to compensate the victims of this crime,” declared Justice Ekwo.


In his judgment, he noted that the defendants conspired to conduct an illegal act by promoting an unregistered investment scheme valued at over N2 billion to the public.


“The evidence presented by the prosecution, including witness testimonies and exhibits, proved that the defendants operated a scheme inviting public investments in a portfolio for participatory interest,” he said. “This evidence was unchallenged and credible, and it is legally required to be relied upon by the trial judge.”


Justice Ekwo highlighted that Suleiman herself admitted to running the scheme during her testimony and cross-examination.


In 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had raised concerns about the illegal fund management activities conducted by Famzhi Interbiz Ltd. The SEC noted that the company was not registered to operate in the Nigerian capital market and had unlawfully solicited funds from the public, promising guaranteed returns on unregistered products in violation of the Securities and Investment Act (ISA) 2007.


The SEC referred the company to law enforcement for criminal investigation and prosecution for violations of the ISA 2007 and other relevant laws. The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) subsequently sued Suleiman and her firm as the 1st and 2nd defendants.


Although arraigned on December 8, 2021, for two counts of alleged N2 billion fraud, the defenda

nts pleaded not guilty.


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