*Accuses him of arresting, imprisoning suspected fraudster on Hushpuppi’s directive
*Says he sent account details to Hushpuppi for payment
*I didn’t collect money, detain Hushpuppi’s partner – DCP Kyari
*Explains Hushpuppi sent N300,000 for clothes, caps
*IGP Baba orders internal review
*PDP demands investigation of Abba Kyari
By Dirisu Yakubu, Esther Onyegbula, Mary Benson & Hauwa Isah
The United States District Court for the Central District of California has indicted Commander of Force Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari in the ongoing prosecution of famous Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Raymond Abass, popularly known as Hushpuppi.
Consequently, US District Judge, ,Honorable O. Otis, has issued a warrant of arrest on Kyari and five others, to appear before it in the ongoing matter.
Kyari, however, dismissed the allegation on his Facebook page yesterday, saying he never collected money from Hushpuppi.
Meanwhile, social media was awash also yesterday, with Nigerians reacting to the development which many described as a rude shock
Hushpuppi was arrested on June 10, 2020, in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, over multiple fraud charges, alongside 11 others, in an operation, tagged ‘Fox Hunt’.
‘’The suspects were accused of committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonation, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft,” the Dubai Police said.
Director of Dubai CID, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf stated then, that the raid that led to Hushpuppi’s arrest resulted in the confiscation of incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).
“The team also seized more than AED 150 million ($40.9 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars with an estimated value of AED 25 million ($6.8 million) obtained from fraud crimes, and confiscated 21 computer devices, 47 smart phones, 15 memory sticks, five hard disks containing 119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims,” he said.
Hushpuppi charged, extradited to US
Hushpuppi was charged by detectives at the Bur Dubai section for obtaining money through fraudulent means and, thereafter, extradited to the United States of America, where the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, began fresh investigation and prosecution.
He was charged in an American court, where he pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, through money laundering, Tuesday.
Part of the money, investigators said, was converted to $50,000 cashier checks which Hushpuppi and another conspirator allegedly used in acquiring the citizenship of Christopher and Nevis, a tiny island nation in the Caribbean, also known as St. Kitts and Nevis.
About $230,000 of the stolen funds was allegedly used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to Abbas in Dubai and subsequently appeared in Hushpuppi’s social media posts.
A statement by the United States Attorney’s office, Central District of Califonia, titled “Six indicted in international scheme to defraud Qatari school founder and then launder over N1 Million in illicit proceeds” disclosed Kyari’s indictment .
It read: “ Nigerian national, known as Hushpuppi, admits money laundering in school financing scheme and additional cyber and business email compromise scheme.
“A Federal Grand jury indictment unsealed this week alleges an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a business person attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar, and the subsequent laundering of illicit proceeds through bank accounts around the world.
“The three-count indictment returned on April 29 and unsealed Monday, charges three US-based defendants who were arrested last week as well as three defendants believed to be in Africa, with conspiracy to engage in money laundering and aggravated identity theft.
” The criminal complainant that initiated the prosecution in February, was also unsealed Monday, revealing that Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, also known by his social media handle of ray Hushpuppi was initially charged in this case.
” Court documents ordered unsealed today show that Abbas, a 37-year-old Nigerian national, pleaded guilty on April 20. A version of Abbas’ plea agreement filed late Tuesday 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 defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretence going after the victim was tipped off,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison.
“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.”
High-profile money launderer
“Mr. Abbas, among the most high-profile money launderers in the world, has admitted to his significant role in perpetrating global BEC fraud, a scheme currently plaguing Americans,” said Kristi K. Johnson, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
“His celebrity status and ability to make connections seeped into legitimate organizations and led to several spin-off schemes in the US 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 Imraan Juma, a.k.a. “Abdul,” 28, of Kenya, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, 40, of Nigeria, to defraud the Qatari business person by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance 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.Yusuf Adekinka Anifowoshe, a.k.a. “AJ,” 26, of Brooklyn, New York, 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.
The conspirators allegedly defrauded the victim out of more than $1.1 million.The proceeds of the fraud allegedly were laundered in several ways.
According to the indictment, Abbas was assisted in laundering the proceeds of the fraud by Rukayat Motunrayo Fashola, a.k.a. “Morayo,” 28, of Valley Stream, New York, and Bolatito Tawakalitu Agbabiaka, a.k.a. “Bolamide,” 34, of Linden, New Jersey. These two defendants also were arrested on July 22 by FBI agents.
Approximately $230,000 of the stolen funds allegedly were used to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand delivered to Abbas in Dubai 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.
“Anifowoshe, Fashola and Agbabiaka were arrested in New York and New Jersey on July 22, and they are expected to be arraigned in Los Angeles in August. All three are currently free on bond”.
Abba Kyari’s indictment
Court documents outlined 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.
However, Kyari ‘s indictment according to revelations by Hushpuppi, followed a misunderstanding between the latter and one of his Nigerian associates, Vincent, 40.
Court documents claimed that Hushpuppi allegedly arranged with DCP Kyari, 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 details for an account into which Abbas could deposit payment for Vincent’s arrest and imprisonment”, according to the court.
US court orders arrest, detention of Kyari
It, therefore, ordered that Kyari and others indicted in the case be arrested.
Part of the court document read: “United States of America( plaintiff) versus Abba Alhaji Kyari (defendant) Government’s notice for detention . Plaintiff, United States of America, by and through its counsel of record, hereby requests detention of defendant and gives notice of the following material factors:
‘’Plaintiff, United States of America, by and through its counsel of record, hereby requests detention of defendant and gives notice of the following material factors: 1.Temporary 10-day detention requested (s 3142(d) on the following grounds:
lPresent offence committed while defendant was on release pending (felony trial)”.
It also stated that “ for good cause shown, it is hereby ordered that the docket in this case, including the complainant, indictment, detention requests, arrest warrants and supporting documents shall be unsealed. It is so ordered.”
My side of the story, by Kyari
Kyari, in a post on his Facebook page, explained that the N300,000 sent by the suspected international fraudster was for clothes and caps.
He also clarified that the money was sent to the cloth seller’s account and not his account.
He posted: “Friends: Abbas who we later came to know as Hushpuppi called our office about two years ago that somebody in Nigeria seriously threatened to kill his family here in Nigeria and he sent the person’s phone number and pleaded we take action before the person attacks his family.
“We traced and arrested the suspect and after investigations, we discovered there wasn’t an actual threat to anyone’s life and they are long-time friends who have money issues between them hence we released the suspect on bail to go and he was not taken to any jail.
“Nobody demanded a kobo from Abbas Hushpuppi. Our focus was to save people’s lives that were purported to have been threatened.
“Later, he saw some of my native clothes and caps on my social media page and he said he likes them and he was connected to the person selling the clothes and he sent about N300k directly to the person’s account. The native clothes and caps (five sets) were brought to our office and he sent somebody to collect them in our office.
“For those who are celebrating that this is an indictment on us and mentioning some fictitious Big Money, they will be disappointed once again as our hands are clean and our record of service for two decades is open for everybody to see.
“They will continue seeing us serving our fatherland and we will continue responding to all distress calls from all Nigerians provided they are life-threatening.
“For good Nigerians who appreciate our service please don’t worry as our hands are clean and they should please not respond to those celebrating and creating many false narratives without any evidence. We are used to such types of people and false newsmakers and distributors.’’
IGP Baba orders internal review
Reacting yesterday, Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, in a statement issued last night, stated that the Inspector-General of Police had instituted an internal review of the allegations.
Mba said: “Sequel to the receipt of allegation and indictment processes from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, against one of the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, DCP Abba Kyari, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered an internal review of the allegations.
“The Nigeria Police Force reaffirms its commitment to the pursuit of justice and the strengthening of its professional relationship with the FBI and other international partners. Further developments on this case will be communicated to members of the public accordingly.”
Need for forensic probe, says PDP
Reacting yesterday, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, called for a forensic investigation of Abba Kyari.
PDP in a statement issued by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the revelation of the involvement of Kyari, head of Nigeria’s intelligence response unit, as a receiver of proceeds of international fraud, is worrisome, disturbing and a stain on the integrity of our nation.
The statement read: “The PDP asks President Buhari to direct the Inspector General of Police to take in Abba Kyari for questioning and if found culpable, should be handed over to the FBI.
“It is indeed disquieting that the integrity of our nation has fallen so abysmally low under the corrupt and fraud-patronizing President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, administration, to the extent that the head of its police intelligence unit is being charged in connection with international fraud.
“Our party demands that the APC administration should not sweep this matter under the carpet given the manifest rapport between Kyari and some top APC leaders.
“We urge President Buhari not to ‘ease out’ this case of corruption but should immediately restore the integrity and image of our nation by allowing for a forensic investigation on the suspect.
“Moreover, if this Abba Kyari matter is not well handled, it will be a permanent stain on the reputation of our police, security system and our nation at large.”