Hushpuppi strikes plea bargain, pleads guilty to multi-million dollar fraud charges

Notorious Nigerian internet fraudster, Ramon Abass, aka Hushpuppi on Tuesday agreed to plead guilty to the multi-million-dollar fraud charges filed against him by the United States government.

Arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in June 2020, and subsequently extradited to the U.S. where most of the victims of his alleged fraudulent activities are based, Abass has spent the last one year in custody maintaining his innocence.

However, with the commencement of his trial around the corner, Abass has now made a volte-face, entering into a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. government in the hope of getting a lighter punishment.

He will now be pleading guilty to Count Two which is “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering,” an offence that attracts a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment among other punishments including full restitution, his plea agreement with the U.S. government states in part.

A copy of the plea bargain agreement between him and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (USAO), signed by Hushpuppi, his lawyer, Louis Shapiro, and the Assistant United States Attorney, Anil Antony, on July 4, the plea agreement was filed at a U.S. Central District Court of California on Tuesday.

According to the agreement, Hushpuppi will change his not guilty plea to plead guilty in federal court.

He will plead guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering, of funds from business email compromise scams and other online heists.

His trial was initially scheduled for 27 July. It has now been postponed to a date to be determined later.

A Twitter post by Evan Ratliff, a journalist with Bloomberg first drew attention to the heavily redacted 29 page document, which also disclosed some of the uses Hushpuppi deployed the proceeds of crime.

In one instance, he bought a luxury Richard Mille wristwatch at a cost of $230,000.

In another, he wired $50,000 to an agent to procure St. Kitt and Nevis Citizenship.

According to the agreement , Hushpuppi will change his not guilty plea to plead guilty in federal court.

He will plead guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering, of funds from business email compromise scams and other online heists.

The passport of the small country was delivered to Hushpuppi in Dubai last year February, just months before he was arrested by the Dubai Police and the FBI in June last year.

He was thereafter extradited to Chicago, along with another Nigerian alleged fraudster Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as Woodberry and 10 others.

Weeks after, he was transferred to California, where he has made a plea bargain.

In the plea bargain document Hushpuppi admitted to laundering money from the Malta Bank heist and the BEC attacks on a Premier League club, another UK firm, and an American law firm, as well as additional schemes.

As noted in the document the victims of Hushpuppi and his co-conspirators and the amount stolen were classified as:

*Foreign Financial Institutions $14,700,000

*UK companies: $7,740,000

*Qatari Victim: $809,983

*New York Law Firm : $922,857.

Hushpuppi’s plea agreement, which involved crimes allegedly perpetrated by North Korean state-sponsored hackers, was heavily redacted, and many of the filings in the case remain sealed.

Some of the highlights of the plea bargain are:* Hushpuppi will restitute the sum of $1,732, 841 as minimum. It could be more, if the court decides.

*He has given up the right to appeal

* He agrees that his conviction makes it practically inevitable and a virtual certainty that he will be removed or deported from U.S.

 

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