A Nigerian celebrity, Ramon Abbas, popularly called Hushpuppi, has narrated how he allegedly bribed a Deputy Commissioner in Nigerian Police, Abba Kyari, to assist him to conceal an over $1 million fraud realised through a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar.
Hushpuppi, who alongside other co-conspirators had been under United States (US) securities detention, was said to have told the law enforcement agency that he paid Kyari to have one of the accomplices in the fraud case, 40-year-old Nigerian, Chibuzo Vincent, arrested and jailed by a Nigeria court.
In the court document seen by The Guild, Hushpuppi claimed that he contacted Kyari after disputes broke out between him, Vincent, and a 28-year-old Kenyan, Abdulrahman Juma, popularly called Abdul, over proceeds of the fraud and that Vincent, who sources said was not convenient with his share from the proceed, went ahead to contact the victim and claim that he (Hushpuppi) and Juma were fraudsters.
As part of the effort to prevent the fraud from getting to public notices particularly the victim from doubting their claims earlier made to him, Kyari, acting in accordance to Abbas directives, was alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed.
As proof of a job well carried out, Kyari, a highly decorated law enforcement officer, allegedly sent Hushpuppi photographs of Vincent after his arrest.
Abbas’s revelation was contained in the court document released by the US Department of Justice titled: ‘Six Indicted in International Scheme to Defraud Qatari School Founder and then Launder over $1 Million in Illicit Proceeds’.
“The Court documents outline a dispute among members of the conspiracy, which allegedly prompted Vincent to contact the victim and claim that Abbas and Juma were engaged in fraud. After this contact, Abbas allegedly arranged to have Vincent jailed in Nigeria by Abba Alhaji Kyari, 46, of Nigeria.
“According to the affidavit, Kyari is a highly decorated deputy commissioner of the Nigeria Police Force who is alleged to have arranged for Vincent to be arrested and jailed at Abbas’ behest, and then sent Abbas photographs of Vincent after his arrest. Kyari also allegedly sent Abbas bank account details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment”, the document revealed.
Efforts to get the super Cop, Kyari, reaction to the allegations leveled against him, proved abortive as calls and messages seeking his response were not returned.
The document, which was unsealed yesterday, came after the 37-year-old Hushpuppi pleaded guilty, further outlined the role played by 37-year-old Nigerian and other five accomplices, who have been arrested, for their actions in the school-finance scheme.
Others involved in the fraud and arrested were 26-year-old Yusuf Anifowoshe, also known as AJ; a resident of Brooklyn in New York, 28-year-old Rukayat Fashola, identified as Morayo; of Valley Stream, New York, and 34-year-old Bolatito Agbabiaka, also known as Bolamide, who resides in Linden, New Jersey.
“Anifowoshe, Fashola and Agbabiaka were arrested in New York and New Jersey on July 22 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and they are expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles in August. All three are currently free on bond”, it added.
As gathered, proceeds of the fraud were allegedly laundered by the suspects in several ways and they were said to have been assisted by Fashola and Agbabiaka.
Aside from the two, about $230,000 of the stolen funds were allegedly used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to Abbas in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts.
“Other illicit proceeds from the scheme were allegedly converted into cashier’s checks, including $50,000 in checks that were used by Abbas and a co-conspirator to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher and Nevis citizenship, as well as a passport for Abbas obtained by creating a false marriage certificate and then bribing a government official in St. Kitts”, the document revealed.
Before the arrest of Hushpuppi and others, they were said to have allegedly faked the financing of the Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials as well as created a bogus website in a scheme.
After establishing the website, the suspects including Abbas allegedly bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off.
The document quoted the Acting United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison to have said: “Mr. Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem”.
Earlier, a version of Abbas’ plea agreement filed outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses.
The Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Kristi Johnson, said: “Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans.
“His celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spin-off schemes in the U.S. and abroad. Today’s announcement deals a crucial blow to this international network and hopefully serves as a warning to potential victims targeted with this type of theft.”
According to the indictment, Abbas allegedly conspired with Abdulrahman Juma, a.k.a. “Abdul,” 28, of Kenya, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, 40, of Nigeria, to defraud the Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance the construction of the planned school. Juma allegedly posed as a facilitator and consultant for the illusory bank loans, while Abbas played the role of “Malik,” a Wells Fargo banker in New York, according to court documents. Vincent, in turn, allegedly provided support for the false narratives fed to the victim by, among other things, creating bogus documents and arranging for the creation of a fake bank website and phone banking line.
“The document revealed that Anifowoshe allegedly played a role in the fraud, assisting Abbas with a call to the victim posing as “Malik.” Special agents with the FBI arrested Anifowoshe in New York on July 22”.