Ping Express, a financial technology company owned by two Nigerians in the United States, has debunked claims that its executives were involved in $160 million fraud.
The company denied the claims in a statement released sent to SaharaReporters.
It said the Texas-based company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Anslem Oshionebo, 45, and its co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Opeyemi Odeyale, 43, both pleaded guilty intentionally over the conduct of the court proceedings.
“Ping Express and its founders appeared to have taken a decision to discontinue the legal process seeing how it appeared from the conduct of proceedings that no matter what the facts were or what was said and proven, minds had been made up for whatever reason and only one thing was going to happen in the end.
“The company and its founders simply pulled the plugs on the case and voluntarily filed a guilty plea,” the statement read.
Ping Express added that the company or its past directors were never involved in money laundering or fraud.
“In the last two and a half years, Ping Express, the fintech company registered with the US FinCen to practice in Texas and other states has been dragged through the US court system on allegations which centered on failure to flag transactions and report same under the US anti- money laundering laws.
“We deny any allegations that we participated in money laundering activities via our platform, the court records are available and very clear. It is saddening however that a technology that was designed to help immigrants stay connected to their families and which has over 80,000 customers has also been used by a few who the US authorities have found to have defrauded others.
“It is however important to clarify that the source of funds transferred on the Ping Express platform is banks in the US as Ping Express is not a deposit money bank. The transaction dynamics as can be confirmed for Nigerians who have used the platform, is such that users transact with their electronic debit or credit cards issued by banks on their accounts with the banks.
“Ping Express therefore has no control or contact whatsoever with tracing the original source of its customers’ funds, the first and only contact with the direct source of funds is the deposit money banks who by regulation are empowered to flag suspicious transactions based on history and KYC.
“Despite the above, Ping Express conducts its own due diligence procedure however limited by the reality of transaction dynamics being just an electronic go-between, the company also does an extent of KYC. It is however impracticable for Ping Express to know or ascertain the source of the funds its customers transfer on its platform.
“The company did not steal from anyone and neither conspired with anyone to steal a dollar from anyone. The court documents and rulings are clear. No losses or restitution was imposed on the company or its founders and this validates that the US court recognized that no fraud was perpetrated within the company’s platform nor was fraud aided or abetted by its founders.
“Ping Express served more than 80,000 hardworking and honest Nigerians in the US and more in other parts of the world, it operated in more than 28 countries including UK, Canada and several European countries and served immigrants from 27 African countries with a consistent Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that were reviewed and approved by regulators. It is of importance to note that some of Ping’s users that were queried by the US Department of Justice are also customers of the top 2 competition.
“These users paid Ping directly from their personal bank accounts in the US. All customers were verified and went through extensive screening before their transactions were processed. Internal limits, which were subject to review by virtue of the approved company’s policy, are the basis for which we were non-compliant. In essence, customers have no hard limits per the company’s policies (not external limits).
“Ping operated strict compliance standards, and ensured users paid from their personal bank accounts, at no point did the company collect cash from any customer. Unfortunately, the US government insisted that Ping did not consider and file enough suspicious reports on all its customers despite them paying from their personal bank accounts with monies already housed by American banks who in the dynamics that Ping know are the ones responsible for the flagging of the source of the monies in their customers’ accounts.
“It was apparently expected that its owners will know every single Nigerian by name, creed, behaviour and track record, as amusing as this sounds, it’s concerning and a pointer to many other things that has crystallized in this matter. It is depressing to view the malicious and baseless claims being reported in a section of the Nigerian media. The malicious relish with which a number of Nigerian-based media organizations have picked up on the story, seemingly driven by worst manner of sensationalist instincts is very shocking, as they have embroidered the tale with the removal of salient factual elements of the case and outlandish plot elements that have a tenuous grip on reality.
“They have maliciously reported so-called facts without taking time to investigate or verify information read on other platforms; this is not in consonance with the time-tested norm in the practice of journalism, which should still be relevant in today’s journalism.
“This becomes a sample case for us all to find company founders being held liable for internal control failures of their company, especially when they had no personal relationship with its users. However, this is what the Ping former owners are faced with despite the noble intention behind the initiative of the company.”
Speaking also, Oshionebo said, “We focused on making the simple task of helping family members back home much easier. We worked very hard with integrity to develop a system that disrupted the marketplace. Rather than join other companies in creating customer service and relations team outside Nigeria, we were passionate about Nigeria and built one of the first outsourcing unit in Nigeria, employing over 40 Nigerians. History is the best judge.”
Odeyale, former COO and co-founder of Ping Express added, “Having led an extremely expensive and painful legal battle with the US regulators over the last 3 years, with the full support of my wife, it was simply time to make a decision that was only in the best interest of my family. I stand proud of what we have achieved for the Nigerian and African community in the US and other parts of the world.”