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Nigeria entrepreneur faces jail in US for $11m fraud

Chris Ewokor

BBC News, Abuja

A Nigerian entrepreneur faces up to 20 years in jail after pleading guilty in the US to charges of internet fraud worth $11m (£8.7m).

Obinwanne Okeke, now 32, was lauded in Forbes Africa's 30 under 30 list in 2016.

But the chief executive of Invictus Group is to be sentenced in October for his part in an email phishing scheme that targeted Unatrac Holding Limited, the export sales office for Caterpillar heavy industrial and farm equipment.

Court documents say Mr Okeke and his co-conspirators obtained and compiled the credentials of hundreds of victims between 2015 and 2019.

Fraudulent wire transfer requests and fake invoices were also sent, before the funds were then transferred overseas, the court documents add.

Earlier this week, the US Department of State froze the assets of six Nigerians accused of internet fraud amounting to more than $6m.

Saudi Arabia denies abuse claims by embassy workers

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Maputo has denied forcing staff to work every weekend without overtime pay and discriminating against Mozambican staff.

"Everything mentioned in the paper is not true and consists of unfounded allegations," it said, referring to anonymous workers' claims published in the Carta de Mocambique newspaper.

Working hours at the embassy are from 09:00 to 15:00, the embassy added, "and nobody is obliged to do extra tasks".

On the issue of pay, the anonymous sources also said workers at the Saudi embassy had not received a pay rise since 2018. In response, the embassy has publicly stated details about salaries and contracts.

Monthly wages vary from $646 (£513) for a gardener to $1,460 for a translator, it said. All local staff have work contracts including an overtime allowance, a transport allowance, and provision for 30 days paid holiday a year.

The embassy however admitted it did ban workers’ relatives from bringing them food unless it was tinned, but called it a coronavirus precaution. The embassy has denied doing less to protect Mozambican staff from the virus, stating "it is obvious that the virus does not discriminate between one functionary and another".

Instances of forced labour in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are well documented. But the Saudi embassy in Mozambique has rejected the use of the term by anonymous workers describing their conditions.

Slavery "contradicts the principles of Islam and the social values of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", it said.

There has not been any comment from Mozambique's Foreign Ministry or Labour Ministry on the workers' accusations.

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