Alleged money laundering: Witness says N35bn was found in Mompha’s accounts

Idi Musa, the sixth prosecution witness, PW6, in the trial of Ismaila Mustapha, (a.k.a Mompha) an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, told Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos how the sum of N35billion was found in two bank accounts linked to the defendant.

EFCC had, on January 12, 2022, arraigned Mompha alongside his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy to launder funds obtained through unlawful activity, retention of proceeds of criminal conduct, laundering of funds obtained through unlawful activity, failure to disclose assets and property, possession of documents containing false pretences and use of property derived from unlawful act.

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charges when they were read to him.

On September 22, 2022, Justice Dada had ordered that the trial of Mompha would continue in absentia, after he jumped bail.

At Monday’s proceedings, Musa, while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, S. Suleiman, narrated how he knew the first and second defendants in the course of investigations into the alleged criminal activities.

He told the court how the commission had received intelligence from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, informing it that the first and second defendants were into cybercrime in the United States of America, USA.

In his testimony, he said: “ Sometime in 2019, we received intelligence from the FBI, USA. The letter was addressed to the Commission, informing us that the first and second defendant were involved in cybercrime, otherwise known as Yahoo Yahoo.”

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According to him, in the course of investigation, some letters were written to two major banks requesting the account statements of the second defendant linked to the first defendant.

In his further testimony, he said: “The account statements were received and analysed.

“During the analysis, we discovered a heavy flow of N30billion through the account of the first defendant (Mompha) in one of the banks and about N5bn in another bank account.

“Letters were written to the FBI, and the Special Fraud Unit of the Commission, regarding the defendant’s claim that he was into Bureau De change business, in view of the volume of these transactions.

“A letter was also written to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and other relevant agencies.”

He also told the court that investigation revealed that the first defendant did not reside in Nigeria and that efforts to reach him proved abortive.

The PW 6 said: “A letter was written to the Nigeria Immigration Services ,

NIS, on October 16, 2019 to arrest the defendant anytime he was seen in the country.

“On October 18, 2019, the first defendant got information that the Commission was looking for him, while he was in Nigeria. So, he quickly got to the airport, boarded a flight in order to jet out of the country to evade arrest.

“The team got the information through the NIS officers at the airport. By then, Mompha had already boarded the flight. So, they had to call him to come down and he was immediately arrested. He was subsequently handed over to the EFCC by the immigration officers.”

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Asked about the findings regarding the defendant’s bank account, Musa said over N30billion was discovered, adding that “ he told us that he was into Bureau De Change business. But investigation showed that he was not.

“We have already concluded investigations in that regard. The offences border on money laundering, operating BDC without licence before a Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos.”

He also told the court that a report from the FBI’s forensic analysis revealed that Mompha’s iPhone was used to send account details to a United Arab Emirates telephone number, which he used to search for Swift Codes of a bank.

“Upon his arrest, all the properties recovered from him were registered with the Exhibits Section in the EFCC office.

“Most of the properties were released to him on bond, except his Iphone 8 that is still with the Commission.

“The items are proceeds of crime because when he was given the Assets Declaration Form, he did not include those items.”

The prosecution then tendered both the first defendant’s statement as well as the Asset Declaration Form.

They were admitted in evidence as exhibits P5 and P6 by the court.

Consequently, Justice Dada adjourned the case till October 8, 2024, for continuation of trial.

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