US Court Takes on Ugandan Soccer Player-Turned-Fraudster in $2.3 Million Wire Fraud Case

Mr. Adrian Kawuba
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On December 21, 2023, 33-year-old Ugandan national, Mr. Adrian Kawuba, found himself arraigned before the federal court in Boston, pleading guilty to four counts of wire fraud. This marked a significant turn in his life, as he now faces the prospect of at least 20 years in a US jail and potential deportation to Uganda. The charges, brought by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, allege Kawuba’s involvement in fraudulent activities that led to substantial losses for other individuals.

The accused, once a professional soccer player for the Drew Rangers and later the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, saw his career come to an end under unclear circumstances. However, the spotlight is now on his actions between May 2019 and November 2021 when he engaged in interstate and international wiring of funds. According to documents from the commission, Kawuba entered into multiple investment agreements and personal guarantee agreements with investors, promising substantial returns of 25 to 50 percent within a short period.

The investments were purportedly directed towards financing short-term projects, including youth sports, entertainment events, and player transfers between private soccer clubs in Africa and parts of Asia. Unfortunately, it emerged that Kawuba had orchestrated a Ponzi-like scheme, using later investors’ money to pay off earlier ones, contrary to the promised investment objectives.

In November 2022, Kawuba’s actions caught up with him as he failed to meet his obligations under the agreements, leading to his arrest. The commission discovered that he had been using the investors’ money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including personal trips, the purchase of a Lexus automobile, and extravagant shopping sprees at fashion and jewelry stores.

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The court documents reveal a stark contrast between Kawuba’s initial payments to core investors and his eventual descent into arrears. Complaints arose when he failed to pay $280,000 out of the $1.9 million owed, resulting in his arrest and subsequent arraignment before the federal court in Boston.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is now seeking various orders, including freezing Kawuba’s assets, requiring an account of all investors’ money, and prohibiting him from accepting or depositing any funds from investors pending case resolution. Additionally, they aim to repatriate his assets, recover ill-gotten gains, and impose civil penalties for his violations.

Judge William G Young has set March 14 as the date for delivering Kawuba’s sentence, and media reports in the US suggest that each wire fraud charge could potentially carry a sentence of 20 years in prison, supervised release, hefty fines, victim compensation orders, and asset forfeiture.

In an unfortunate historical parallel, Kawuba’s case echoes events from 15 years ago when another Ugandan, Nasser Ntege Ssebagala, faced charges in the same Massachusetts district area, resulting in a guilty verdict.

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