05 Oct Hushpuppi: I’ll pay back $1.7million restitution despite benefitting only $300,000
Abbas Ramon, alias Hushpuppi, who is awaiting sentencing by a United States court, has pledged to refund $1.7 million in restitution to the victims of his fraudulent schemes.
This, the Nigerian Instagram celebrity said, was despite that he only benefitted $300,000 from the crimes.
He said this in a hand-written letter he addressed to the trial judge, Otis Wright of the US Central District of California.
Hushpuppi begged for leniency as he expressed regrets and apologies for his actions in the letter he sent to the judge ahead of his sentencing in November.
Mr Abbas has been in detention since his arrest in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and rendition to the US in June 2020.
He wrote his emotional letter dated 9 September to the judge from detention in Central Valley Annex Prions in McFarland, California.
The three-page letter was part of the documents his lawyers have so far filed at the court, urging the judge to reduce his sentence below the calculated range dictated by statute.
The offence of conspiracy to engage in money laundering to which Mr Abass pleaded guilty attracts a maximum imprisonment term of 20 years.
Full restitution despite benefiting ‘fraction’
Mr Abbas wrote in his letter that he was ready to pay the full restitution for the crimes with his legitimately earned funds, hoping that the judge would, in exchange, sentence him to a much lesser jail term.
“Your Honour, I totally recognise the seriousness of my offence and no amount of sorry can right my wrong in the hearts of the victims and this is why I have decided to use my personal money to offset all of the entire $1,700,000 restitution even though I only benefited a fraction of $300,000 plus but it makes me feel better that all the victims get every of their penny back,” he wrote.
‘I’m a changed person’
Mr Abbas assured the judge he had become a changed person in detention with a new set of priorities and focus.
He added that he had come to value freedom and being on the right side of the law the more.
Mr Abass also pleaded with the judge to count his willingness to forfeit his properties as part of his punishments.
“I personally consider it as part punishment for myself and it’s the right thing to do. Your Honour, I really am a changed person in the way I think, see life and make decisions.
“My priorities in life has (sic) changed, my focus in life has shifted, I have realised how precious life and freedom is and how important it is to be on the right side of the law.
“Your Honour, I will like to plead with you to see my act of forfeiting my properties that I worked hard for, for many years, for full restitution repayment as part punishment as well.”
He also took the judge through what he described as the hardship he had undergone since the case began including contracting COVID-19 without getting treatment.
“I will like you to also put into consideration the hardship for about a year in confined lockdown and also contracting Covid while (being) incarcerated which was a near death experience with no treatment or care in solitary confinement,” he stated.
Mr Abass also appealed to the judge’s sense of justice.
He noted that, not being an American citizen, he would not be eligible for the programme that reduces the percentage of sentences to about 65 per cent.
In addition to this, he said, he would still spend six more months after completing his jail term “for immigration processing for deportation process to be completed”.
He said, in contrast, his co-defendant, a Canadian citizen, who benefitted $11 million from the crimes and had yet to commit to making restitution would enjoy such a drastic reduction of his prison time.
“Please I plead with you to lean towards the request of my attorneys if not I will be doing more time than my co-defendant who benefitted more than $11,000,000 from the schemes and has paid no restitution as he will have to do only 65 % of his time, and as a Canadian citizen also, he can be sent there under the prisoner transfer treaty and get probation and that leaves the scale of justice imbalance. God bless your sir as you consider my plea for fairness.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California states in the plea agreement filed in court that since about January 18, 2019 to 9 June 2020, Hushpuppi conspired with multiple persons “to conduct financial transactions into, within, and outside the United States involving property that represented the proceeds of wire fraud.”
The co-conspirators, according prosecutors targeted multiple victims and laundered and/or attempted to launder funds fraudulently obtained.
They also allegedly attempted to be fraudulently obtained, through bank cyber-heists, business email compromise (BEC) frauds, and other fraud schemes.
The intended victims of the conspiracy were said to include a foreign financial institution (which was a bank in Malta), the victim’s law firm (located in New York State), and two companies located in the United Kingdom.
Mr Abass was said to have known that “these fraudulent schemes included bank cyber-heists, BEC schemes, and other fraud schemes.”
Mr Kyari and three other police officers are being tried on charges bordering on cocaine trafficking.
The foreign financial institution (a bank in Malta) was an intended victim of a cyber-heist, while the other victims identified above were victims of BEC schemes.
In some BEC schemes involving victim companies in the United Kingdom, Mr Abass was said to have with one co-conspirator on May 12, 2019, how they anticipated fraudulent payments of approximately £6 million per week.
“Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account, the defendant would coordinate with other co-conspirators to obtain or move the funds, and then to further launder the funds,” the U.S. government said.
In addition to admitting defendant’s involvement in the schemes intending to defraud the victims listed above, Mr Abass was also said to have admitted involvement in a scheme to defraud a victim company in Qatar that was building an international school (the Qatari Victim Company) and the owner of that company.
He was also said to have in December 2019, begun conspiring with a co-conspirator to defraud the owner of the Qatari company “who was seeking a lender to invest $15,000,000 in a project to build an international school”.
Mr Abass’ alleged co-conspirator was said to have already defrauded the victim of funds at the time that the defendant joined the scheme.
“Beginning on or around December 11, 2019, the defendant began to communicate with the Victim Businessperson, fraudulently using the name Malik,” it was stated.
The prosecution said further, Hushpuppi representing himself as Malik, falsely told the victim that he would open a bank account in the United States where the $15,000,000 loan could initially be deposited.
“In truth, defendant and Coconspirator A did not intend to assist the Victim Businessperson in securing a loan; they were defrauding the Victim Businessperson,” the prosecution alleged. (PREMIUM TIMES)