A prominent influencer and social media star from Nigeria, Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas has entered a guilty plea in cases relating to his role in money laundering and a number of fraudulent schemes, reportedly including a €13 million heist from Malta’s Bank of Valletta (BOV) in 2019.
Mr Abbas admitted to money laundering “through bank accounts around the world”, and “several other cyber and business email compromise schemes” that cumulatively caused more than $24 (€20.2 million) in losses, according to the US Justice Department.
The self-professed “real estate developer” reached social media stardom sharing photos of his opulent lifestyle, featuring designer clothes, supercars, and a considerable amount of private air travel, to his 2.5 million Instagram followers.
He was detained in June 2020, and pleaded guilty to the charges on 20th April, according to court documents unveiled last week.
Upon his arrest in the United Arab Emirates by local police, working in collaboration with the US FBI, nearly $41 million (€34.5 million) in cash, 13 luxury cars worth around $6.8 million (€5.72 million), and phone and computer data containing swathes of evidence including the addresses of nearly two million possible victims was found at his residence.
BOV was defrauded €13 million when it was hacked in early 2019 after hackers broke into the bank’s system posing as the French stock market regulator.
While the bank is not mentioned explicitly in court documents or the statement released by the Justice Department, reports in Forbes point out that details of a “$14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution” in February 2019 cited by the Justice department match those of the hit on the Maltese bank.
Following Mr Abbas’ arrest one of Nigeria’s top police officers – deputy commissioner Abba Kyari – has been suspended after being indicted in the US on money laundering charges.
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