A Kenyan law firm was used in the multimillion heist orchestrated by indicted Nigerian scammer Hushpuppi.
A federal grand jury indictment unsealed this week alleges an elaborate scheme to steal more than $1.1 million from a businessperson attempting to finance the construction of a school for children in Qatar – and the subsequent laundering of illicit proceeds through bank accounts around the world.
The three-count indictment returned on April 29 and unsealed Monday charges three U.S.-based defendants who were arrested last week – as well as three defendants believed to be in Africa – with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.
The criminal complaint that initiated the prosecution in February was also unsealed Monday, revealing that Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – also known by his social media handle of “Ray Hushpuppi” – was initially charged in this case. Court documents ordered unsealed today show that Abbas, a 37-year-old Nigerian national, pleaded guilty on April 20. A version of Abbas’ plea agreement filed late Tuesday outlines his role in the school-finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that cumulatively caused more than $24 million in losses.
According to the indictment, Abbas allegedly conspired with Abdulrahman Imraan Juma, a.k.a. “Abdul,” 28, of Kenya, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent, 40, of Nigeria, to defraud the Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance construction of the planned school. Juma allegedly posed as a facilitator and consultant for the illusory bank loans, while Abbas played the role of “Malik,” a Wells Fargo banker in New York, according to court documents. Vincent, in turn, allegedly provided support for the false narratives fed to the victim by, among other things, creating bogus documents and arranging for the creation of a fake bank website and phone banking line.
The conspirators allegedly defrauded the victim out of more than $1.1 million.
As per the court documents, Imraan Juma worked hand-in-hand with Hushpuppi and another Nigerian identified as Kelly Chibuzo to defraud a Qatari business person more than Kenya Shillings 1.1 billion in the guise that they will facilitate the businessman with a loan to fund the construction of a school in Qatar.
Juma posed as a facilitator and consultant for the illusionary bank loans while Hushpuppi played the role of ‘Malik’ a Wells Fargo banker in New York.
Chibuzo is accused of creating bogus documents and arranging the creation of a bogus Bank website and phone banking line.
According to court documents seen by Kenya Today, Juma engaged the services of Kenyan law firm Okatch and Partners Advocates in scamming the Qatari Victim Company, the firm was used to receive the funds from the victim.
“During this meeting, the Victim Businessperson signed a contract with Westload. The contract stated that the Victim Businessperson was responsible for paying a “consultancy fee” of $225,000 through the law firm Okatch & Partners (“Okatch”), which was located in Kenya. The payment was to be made in two installments—an initial payment of $157,500 and a second payment for $67,500. Westload also provided two initial invoices; one for $157,500 for the first installment and another for $6,900, for purported legal and initial engagement fees.” Court paper reads.
The Qatari businessman wanted a financier for the construction project and Juma posed as a financier using Westload Financial Solutions Limited (“Westload”) the company purported to facilitate the loan.
On around December 6 and 7, 2019, the Victim Businessperson wired approximately USD $150,000 to Okatch in four transactions court papers show.
Then, on February 4, 2020, JUMA told the Victim Businessperson to send money to Okatch, in Kenya. Between approximately February 5 and 10, 2020, the Victim Businessperson sent $299,983.58 to the bank account of Okatch in seven separate transactions.
Court papers strongly indicate that the law firm facilitated the scamming.
Duncan Okatch, perhaps the most prominent senior partner in the firm is also a controversial figure in the press.
Raila Odinga’s aide Silas Jakakimba claimed to have been assaulted by Okatch who’s his ex-wife’s lawyer in child custody case that has been going on for time now. He alleged that Okatch has punched him in the face severally in front of his sons.
The lawyer got physical after he could not be allowed to attend a meeting that was to be held between Jakakimba, his wife, and the management of the Riara School.
The lawyer had colluded with Jakakimba’s wife to block him (Jakakimba) from clearing his sons from Riara School, where they had been schooling.
Okatch also represented Babu Owino in the DJ Evolve shooting saga and has handled a number of high profile cases.
Fraudsters have perfected their art to erase their footprints by working with rogue law firms who conspire in their scheme by laundering the crime proceeds.
Tom Okundi of Okundi & Company Advocates is notorious for laundering money for gold scammers, a matter that saw his bank accounts frozen by court after it was determined that mega gold scammer, Jared Otieno used the firm to scam Sh300M some foreigners.
A Kenyan lawyer is under Director of Criminal Investigations radar after he was mentioned in a multi-million fake gold trade syndicate.
The lawyer, the latest in a long chain of personalities involved in facilitating the trade in which gullible foreigners are duped and defrauded of their money, has been included in a report by the DCI after the Asset Recovery Authority (ARA) said it is following upon his business accounts and property in the country.
Ochieng Opiyo Advocates are said to have facilitated the theft of Sh 71.5 million after he allegedly collected the money on behalf of a company owned by two Zambian nationals.
ARA states that the intricate money-laundering scheme is done through a plot that dupes foreigners that they are receiving gold with bank details indicating that it is timber that is being exported.
Other lawyers under investigations have been accused of drafting forged documents. In one of the deals, a supplier who introduced himself as Steve Okothe, bearer of ID number 10215492, with the help of another lawyer presented a letter dated September 26, 2016, purported to have been signed by a Joram Wambua Katweo for the Commissioner of Mines and Geology.
“We established that they are involved in an intricate money-laundering scheme executed with the intent of defrauding foreign nationals on the premise that they have gold for sale while hiding behind falsified bank documents showing they are engaged in timber export,” reads part of the statement filed by ARA.
The agency told the court that shared out by the foreign businessmen is part of the Sh157 million received from a shipment of the fake gold disguised as timber. They forged customs documents to conceal their fake gold business.
To facilitate movement of the funds to their personal accounts, they used agreements supported by falsified custom declaration forms purportedly from Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as proof that they were engaged in timber importation while we suspect the money was for fake hold trade,” ARA added in their statement.
They added, “Investigations established that Sh71.5 million was transferred from the account held by Ochieng Opiyo Advocates to another account held by First Line Capital Ltd owned by the two Zambian businessmen while declaring that it was payment to purchase timber for export.”
The rest of the money was shared by two other companies who received Sh47.7 million and Sh37.6 million respectively.
Another lawyer Thomas Ngoe despite not being registered to practise law in the country, is the leader of a calibre of lawyers who have specialised in advising foreigners on barriers to entry, which include foreign investment regulations, policies, and specific commitments under various trade agreements, customs duty.
This is a very tricky fellow. He is the brains behind the cartels that wreaked havoc in the city in the past two years.
When he managed to get connected globally in the fake gold business. Tom Ngoe, using a big part of the gold loot he had cleared paid google to have all his online images deleted.
He junked all the pictures including those on LinkedIn where he is supposed to be displaying himself as a professional.
Such dirty deals do not only jeopardize the reputation of the law firm, but drops clients trust and puts other clients money held by the firms in risk.
The new revelations could now mean that the US authorities would be flying into the country to trace the Kenyan suspect who’s believed to be somewhere in Africa and on the run. FBI successfully extradited the Akasha brothers who’re now in a US jail over narcotics dealings.
Hushpuppi was arrested in July last year in Dubai by Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) detectives and flown into the US.