By Rasheed Sobowale
The lawyer representing Ramon Abbas, (a.k.a Hushpuppi) has stated the Instagram big boy is innocent of all charges and that he “was running a legitimate business and a very legitimate Instagram account and did not take part in any scam or fraud.”
Hushpuppi is currently held at MCC Chicago Prison. This was confirmed by a search conducted by Vanguard on the US Federal Bureau of Prisons website using the Find an Inmate feature.
A press statement on his arrest by the US Department of Justice read; “A Dubai resident who flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on social media has arrived in the United States to face criminal charges alleging he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, including schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.”
“In 2019 alone, the FBI recorded $1.7 billion in losses by companies and individuals victimized through business email compromise scams, the type of scheme Mr. Abbas is charged with conducting from abroad,” said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
Hushpuppi legal representative, Gal Pissetzky of Pissetzky & Berliner, told Forbes that he is “Absolutely not guilty of [the] charges they are accusing him of,” adding, “[Abbas] was running a legitimate business and a very legitimate Instagram account and did not take part in any scam or fraud.”
Asked how Abbas paid for his lifestyle, Hushpuppi lawyer told the magazine, “He’s an entrepreneur. He has real estate involvement … [he’s] an Instagram personality. He was promoting brands and that’s how he was very legitimately making his money.”
On his relationship with Premier League footballers Tammy Abraham and Ezri Konsa, Hushpuppi lawyer said he, “is friends with a lot of people. Somebody who has that many followers – obviously he knows and has friends in a lot of places … it’s all legitimate.”
Ever since his arrest, Hushpuppi has become an element of banter among Nigerian politicians.
First to throw a banter was the ruling party, All Progressive Congress (APC) requesting the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to explain its relationship with Hushpuppi.
The ruling party alleged that the PDP had in the days leading to the 2019 general elections turned Dubai into its strategic meeting place, adding that the closeness of Hushpuppi to certain PDP leaders is not a mere coincidence.
“That the PDP leadership turned Dubai into their ‘Strategic’ meeting place ahead of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and ‘Hushpuppi’s’ affinity with the PDP leadership is not mere coincidence.
“At different times, ‘Hushpuppi’ was been photographed in Dubai meeting with the PDP’s 2019 presidential candidate, Alh. Atiku Abubakar; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Senator Dino Melaye among other PDP stalwarts.”
In response, PDP urged APC, to deal with the challenge of governance rather than dissipating energy associating its chieftains with the alleged internet fraudster, Hushpuppi.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If convicted of conspiracy to engage in money laundering, Abbas would face a statutory sentence up to 20 years in the US federal prison.