Serial investor and entrepreneur Marek Zmysłowski has narrated how he was placed on Interpol's 'Most Wanted' list, which was as a result of his business ambitions in Nigeria.
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, Zmysłowski, who co-founded Jovago and HotelOga, published a post on his Medium in which he claims he was arrested by the Polish Border Security because he was declared wanted by "the Nigerian Government for the crimes of Advanced Financial Fraud."
Further, into his story, he notes when his problem began in Nigeria. "After leaving Jumia in 2015, I launched “HotelOga”. The company was funded from my private capital and investment from minority shareholders from Nigeria, India, and Poland. The local investor was a very prominent businessman with his hands in many different sectors, strategic for the Nigerian economy. He had also powerful friends that allowed him to keep those hands there. Someone you want to have as a “Godfather” in a hostile business environment. Where you definitely don’t want to be, is when the “Godfather”, your support system, turns against you."
According to Medium Post, he and his local investor disagreed on company vision and managerial style started to affect the business.
"During the startup fight for growth and survival, a conflict (around the company vision and management style) between myself and the Godfather arose. It reached a threshold when he, together with our CFO, tried to kick me out of the management board and take control of the company.
They failed because my team, my co-founder and other shareholders came to my defense. The conflict, however, paralyzed our operations for months and almost made us go bankrupt. We were able to save the company by merging with our biggest competitor from East Africa.
"This allowed me to exit the company and remove myself from the equation, hoping that this move will release the tension between stakeholders."
Zmysłowski further narrates that he was arrested at Warsaw airport when his name showed up on Interpol's 'wanted list'.
"The justification of the arrest only included a very vague description of my alleged crimes. Apparently, I stole my investor and my CFO money. The only evidence in the case? Victim statement. Nothing else. Just “testimonies”.
"Imagine going to the police now and telling them that your neighbor stole a million dollars from you. And now the police goes to arrest your neighbor without even asking if you ever had a million, not even bothering to ask if you have any proof of the theft" he writes.
Marek Zmysłowski was released the next day after the Nigerian Police failed to send supporting documentation to back up its claim.
He also writes that the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign affairs has also failed to send "a formal request to explain the situation and give any information about the actions against" him for the past six months.
In his post, he alleges that the Interpol was complicit in the affair.
"The day I left the Polish custody. I got 3 phone calls. The first one was from my Nigerian banker who informed me about the police order to freeze all my accounts. The second call came from a Nigerian journalist, that got a tip from “someone” about my arrest and wanted my comments. Someone really wanted to give me some bad press.
The only people in Nigeria that knew at that time about my detention in Poland, were the Police officers behind the arrest warrant. The third person I spoke to that day, was the “Godfather’s” lawyer. Her offer was pretty simple. If I pay 300k USD, my problems with the Nigerian justice system and Interpol will go away. And my image in the media will remain untarnished. That’s how some people secure their investment returns" writes Zmyslowski in his Medium post.
He says he went ahead to sue the Nigerian Police Force. "On July 23rd, 2018, the judge ruled in my favor. My arrest warrant was struck down, bank freeze was ruled as illegal and I was even given a 2 mln Naira compensation. The symbolic amount in a symbolic victory.
"Does it mean my problems are over? Not at all. Winning a case in Nigeria is one thing. Having anyone respect that court ruling is another. The same people in Nigeria that put me on the system are the only ones who can take me down. And of course, they haven’t. The only way left was to apply directly to the Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France."
You can read Marek Zmysłowski's entire account of his recent travails on his Medium post.
O.O Nwoye, the founder of Fonebase Labs, a Nigerian technology company has responded to Zmyslowski's Medium post.
Nwoye, in a Medium article of his own published on Saturday, February 16, 2019, claims that "Marek ‘allegedly’ defrauded his investors in Hotel Oga."
He listed 8 points against Zmyslowski;
1. They invested money in his company HotelOga without knowing there was another entity in Poland that held the technical assets.
2. The Nigerian entity had contracts and collected money on behalf of Nigerian hotels. Which was ‘allegedly’ not remitted to the hotels.
3. Marek had issues with his Poland based cofounder(s) and they split. They took the polish entity and Marek took the Nigerian entity.
4. Marek sold the Nigerian entity to a South African company — Nightbridge and “allegedly” took all the money received. In the process shafting
. His Investors
. Hotels that he collected booking for.
5. The Polish entity merged with/was sold to HotelOnline
6. The Nigerian investors without anything to show for their plenty monies invested (even though value was being created everywhere) began to look like they had been jobbed by a Polish visitor to Nigeria (Choi!🙆🏾).
7. The Nigerian investors have refused to be his Maga and are apparently working to rectify their error
8. Marek is throwing a tantrum and trying to tarnish Nigeria’s image as he tries to sort out his personal business issues. (Marek, we will not be your collateral damage).
Later today on his Twitter account, Zmyslowski said "If I have loooted anything- where is the court case ? Oh wait, it’s the one I won."