Nigerian arrested in UK, extradited to Malta to face romance fraud charges
A 41-year-old Nigerian national, Johnson Anene has been remanded in custody after being brought to Malta to face fraud and money laundering charges.
According to MaltaToday, Anene who lived in St Paul’s Bay before leaving for the UK, appeared in court on Wednesday after being arrested in Britain and transferred to Maltese authorities on a European arrest warrant.
Anene, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, had been placed on the police wanted list in connection with the indictment last year of several other people accused of playing a role in a scam love online.
One of the defendants was former footballer Sunday Eboh.
According to the report, the elderly victim of the group had been tricked into sending money to someone claiming to be a lone US soldier deployed in Afghanistan. This case is still ongoing.
At Anene’s hearing, the court was told that ongoing investigations into the romance fraud scheme, conducted by the Paola District Police, in conjunction with the Financial Crimes Unit, had identified Anene.
Magistrate Rachel Montebello was told by prosecutors Abigail Caruana Vella, Sean Xerri de Caro and Karl Muscat, as well as detectives Claire Borg, Sarah Kathleen Zerafa, to issue an order freezing Anene’s assets.
The court was told by defense lawyer Rachel Tua that the extradition was uncontested and made a bail application, pointing to the defendant’s close family ties to Malta.
The request was opposed by the prosecution, who argued that the investigation revealed that Anene had fled Malta to escape prosecution for these crimes.
It was only recently that he was arrested in the UK under the European Arrest Warrant issued by Malta and transferred to the custody of the Maltese police.
In the meantime, the court did not uphold the bail request, ordering the man’s remand in custody.