Obinwanne Okeke, the Nigerian charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for various acts of cyber scam, has appointed John Iweanoje, as his lawyer, according to court documents seen by Premium Times.

Iweanoje takes over from Rahul Sharma, a public defender hired by a United States judge to stand as counsel to Okeke.

The accused had failed to appear with a lawyer during his initial court appearance on August 9.

Iweanoje indicated that he was stepping in to defend the Abuja-based businessman later the same day.

Okeke did not put in a plea when he made his first court entry.

The accused, who would stand trial in Norfolk Virginia, is expected to remain in custody until a trial date is fixed.

“Since he was arrested on a criminal complaint, it means he could be held in custody pending trial.

“The jury will decide whether to return indictment or not. If they decide to return indictment, he will be presented before a judge to enter a plea. If he pleads guilty, he would be sentenced. If he pleads not guilty, then a trial date will be set,” spokesperson for the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District, Joshua Stueve, said.

In June 2018, the FBI received complaints from Unatrac, an international subsidiary of heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar that Okeke gained unauthorised access to the e-mail account of its chief financial officer and authorised a series of fictitious invoices to the tune of $11m.

The domestic intelligence body also found that Okeke had duped an American show manufacturer as part of a business email compromise scheme that he and other accomplices had coordinated.

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