An American national, Marco Antonio Ramirez, has been remanded in Kirikiri Prisons on the order of Justice Josephine Oyefeso of an Ikeja High court for allegedly defrauding three Nigerians of $565,000 (210 million naira).

Ramirez was arraigned on a 16-count charge of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to EFCC, Ramirez, who acted as the Managing Director of three companies, USA Now Plc, Eagleford Instalodge Group and USA Now Energy Capital Group, committed the offences between February and August 2013.

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency alleged that Ramirez collected $10,000 from one Olukayode Sodimu under the pretext that the money was meant to facilitate an American Green Card with the US Immigration Services.

Counsel to EFCC, Veronica Aigboje, also accused the defendant of fraudulently obtaining $10,000 from one Abubakar Umar through a controversial investment programme in the US in order for the latter to be eligible for a US Green Card.

EFCC also accused Ramirez of collecting $545,000 from one Godson Echejue under the pretext that the money was meant for investing in his company, Eagle Ford Limited, in order to facilitate a US Green Card.

While praying the court to remand the defendant in prison custody, pending trial, Aigboje informed the court that they were out of bed space at the EFCC detention centre.

But Chukwudi Maduka, counsel to Ramirez, prayed the court to remand his client in EFCC custody as against Ikoyi or Kirikiri Prisons.

He further argued that they had just received the charge and that they needed time to file a bail application, while also notifying the court that Ramirez was already on administrative bail in the EFCC Abuja office where he is also facing fraud charges.

Justice Oyefeso however remanded Ramirez in Kirikiri prisons and adjourned the matter till July 3 for hearing of the bail application.

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