Nigerian Instagram influencer, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, popularly known as Hushpuppi, has pleaded guilty to charges that include money laundering, wire fraud, felony amongst others, brought against him by the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Hushpuppi admitted in the United States to taking part in a scam to steal over $1.1 million from a business person attempting to finance the construction of a school in Qatar, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said in a statement that Ramon Abbas, 37, pleaded guilty on April 20, according to documents ordered unsealed on Wednesday.
The document was reported to be signed by Hushpuppi; his lawyer, Loius Shapiro; Acting United States Attorney, Tracy Wilkison, amongst others.
It also stated that Hushpuppi risks 20 years imprisonment, a 3-year period of supervised release, a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offence.
What is stated in the guilty plea document
The document partly read, “Defendant (Hushpuppi) admits that defendant is, in fact, guilty of the offence to which defendant is agreeing to plead guilty.
Beginning no later than, on or about January 18, 2019, through on or about June 9, 2020, defendant knowingly combined, agreed, and conspired with multiple other persons (“coconspirators”) to conduct financial transactions into, within, and outside the United States involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud.
These coconspirators included the persons referred to in the Information as UICC 1 and UICC 2, as well as other coconspirators not referred to in the Information. The coconspirators targeted multiple victims and laundered and/or attempted to launder funds fraudulently obtained, and attempted to be fraudulently obtained, through bank cyber-heists,1 business email compromise frauds, and other fraud schemes.
“Defendant understands that the statutory maximum sentence that the Court can impose for a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h), as charged in the Information, is: 20 years’ imprisonment; a 3-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offence, whichever is greatest; and a mandatory special assessment of $100.’’
It also noted that the parties (US Attorney Offices and Hushpuppi) agreed that “the agreement will be considered part of the record of the defendant’s guilt plea hearing as if the entire agreement had been read into the record of the proceeding.”
The document, however, did not mention the date of the plea hearing.
What you should know
Hushpuppy was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 alongside 12 other members of his gang with about 1,926,400 people from different parts of the world reported to have fallen victims to the suspects.
The Dubai Police later handed Abbas and his conspirators over to the FBI in the US and they had since been arraigned on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others.
He was also accused by the Justice Department in February of helping North Korean hackers launder money and playing a supporting role in cyber scams perpetrated by three computer programmers accused of extorting $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency.
Abbas took part in scams that resulted in a total of $24 million in losses to the victims.
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that the Federal Government will increase its education funding by 50% in 2 years.
President Buhari disclosed this at the Global Education Summit in London, United Kingdom, on Wednesday, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
In a document signed at the summit in London titled “Heads Of State Call To Action On Education Financing Ahead Of The Global Education Summit,” Buhari said Nigeria is aggressively committed to increasing domestic education funding.
“We commit to progressively increase our annual domestic education expenditure by 50% over the next two years and up to 100% by 2025 beyond the 20% global benchmark,” he said.
The conference co-hosted by the Prime Minister of UK Boris Johnson and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta seeks to ensure 5-year pledges in a bid to support GPE’s work to help transform the education system in up to 90 countries and territories.
Buhari joins Presidents Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana; Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi and Faure Gnassingbé of Togo in the pledge to improve funding to education.
Buhari approves N8.5bn for research in medicine, others
Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, revealed that the FG’s approved N8.5 billion for research in Medicine and other areas under the National Research Fund (NRF) scheme.
Bogoro said, “With your support, I made a case to the board of trustees to increase the NRF research grants. Initially, we had a seed money of N3 billion, which got exhausted and N1 billion was added between 2016 and 2019.
When I came, I decided to revolutionise it and I said it is not a question of seed money, let it be annual money and that is why I made a case for N5 billion in 2019 alone and in 2020 we raised it to N7.5 billion.
The President has approved another N7.5 billion but, guess what, with additional N1 billion that we intend to use for groundbreaking research around medicine even in respect of the COVID-19 challenge.”
He disclosed this at a workshop for Directors of Research and Development of public universities in Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.
He added that this was part of the FG’s plans to support the Nigerian Medical Research Institute (NMIR) for local vaccine production.