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Business

US says social media influencer, Hushpuppi, laundered funds for North Korean hackers

The United States’ DOJ has revealed that Hushpuppi working with North Korean hackers to launder funds stolen from a Maltese bank.

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Flamboyant social media influencer, Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi, has been mentioned to have taken part in a case that involves North Korean hackers.

The United States said that Abbas was part of a conspiracy in a North Korean cyber-enabled heist on a Maltese bank in February 2019.

This was disclosed in a statement released by the US Department of Justice, in which it referred to the attack as a $14.7 million cyber-heist from a foreign financial institution, with both the date and amount matching that of the attack on Malta’s Bank of Valleta in February 2019.

READ: Hushpuppi connected to several cyber crimes – EFCC

According to a report by Forbes, the US is specifically accusing North Koreans, Jon Chang Hyok, 31, Kim Il, 27, and Park Jin Hyok, 36, of being members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), a military intelligence agency of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), describing them as being connected to “North Korean military hacking units” known as Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT38).

Abbas is linked to one specific part of their criminal conspiracy, namely money laundering and the attack on a foreign financial institution. Abbas was linked to the North Korean conspiracy this week when federal prosecutors unsealed a charge against Ghaleb Alaumary, 37, of Ontario, Canada.

READ: Hushpuppi conspired to steal £100 million from English Premier League club

Alaumary pleaded guilty to charges related to his role as a money launderer for the North Korean group filed in November 2020. The Department of Justice connected Abbas to the North Korean hackers through Alaumary, who they allege conspired with Ray Hushpuppi, to launder funds from a North Korean-perpetrated cyber-enabled heist from a Maltese bank in February 2019.”

READ: Hushpuppi extradited to the United States

It was reported that the attack, although largely unsuccessful, was of such seriousness in Malta that the country’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to address parliament in 2019 over what the Times of Malta described as the creation of false international payments that saw €13 million transferred to banks in four countries. The amounts were reportedly traced and reversed and none of the bank’s customers lost their money.

READ: St Kitts and Nevis addresses Hushpuppi’s citizenship

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that Hushpuppi and his co-conspirators were arrested in Dubai in June 2020 by the International Police (INTERPOL) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over allegations of fraud, hacking, impersonation, bank fraud, scamming and money laundering.
  • In July 2020, Abbas was charged by the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles with conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from ‘“business email compromise”’ (BEC) frauds and other scams which includes schemes targeted at a US law firm, a premier league soccer club and a foreign bank.
  • In July Abbas’ then-lawyer, Gal Pissetzky told Forbes that Abbas was not guilty of the charges and described Abbas as “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”
  • Abbas, who is a Nigerian social media influencer with more than 2.5 million followers on Instagram, has built a global following from posting pictures of his lavish spending on cars, watches, designer clothes and private jets.
  • His criminal trial was due to be heard in late 2020 before the pandemic forced a delay.

Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Business

SEC denies Oando’s shareholder court victory

SEC has denied ever being served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court.

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unclaimed dividend, SEC restrains fintech company, Chaka from advertising or offering for sale shares

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has denied the claim by one of Oando Plc’s shareholders, Engr Patrick Ajudua, that he won a court case against the capital market apex regulator.

SEC disclosed in a statement it issued and seen by Nairametrics on Wednesday that there was never a time it was served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court.

It stated, “The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the Commission) has been drawn to several publications in the media, where it is reported that a shareholder of OandoPlc, purportedly obtained a judgment from the Federal Capital Territory High Court against the Commission.

“The Commission wishes to inform the general public that it was never at any time served with court processes with respect to the purported matter at the FCT High court. The Commission will consequently take all necessary steps to verify and set aside the purported decision of the said Court.”

What you should know

  • On Tuesday, Ajudua, reportedly won a legal suit, which was filed at the High Court of the FCT against SEC, according to Nairametrics.
  • He filed that the directive of the SEC suspending Oando’s Annual General Meeting is in breach of his right to freedom of association as guaranteed under Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 9, 10 & 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
  • In the said hearing presided over by Honorable Justice O. A Musa, all cases filed were granted in his favor.

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Business

FG urged to sell-off “unproductive” Ajaokuta Steel Plant

The FG has been urged to sell the moribund Ajaokuta steel plant located in Kogi State.

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Ajaokuta Steel Plant: FG Spends N2bn Salary Every Year on Workers Doing Nothing 

The Federal Government has been urged to sell the moribund Ajaokuta steel plant located in Ajaokuta, Kogi State. The FG was advised to sell the defunct facility to the private sector, which would be more capable to turn the massive structural investment into a profitable venture.

The call was made by the Chairman and Managing Director of Energy Services Limited, Chief Sunny Onuesoke who spoke to newsmen in Warri after visiting the plant last week.

He lamented that no Nigerian would feel good about the country after visiting the $8bn structural investment which has never “produced a single bar of steel since reaching 98% completion as far back as 1994.”

On his visit to the plant, he reported that it was a very emotional experience for him.

“I went there, I cried and asked what exactly is the problem?” he said.

He reflected on the numbers associated with the moribund Ajaokuta steel Plant from its flag off in 1979 to date.

  • 3.9bn was budgeted for the resuscitation of the facility in 2016
  • 4.27bn was budgeted for the same purpose in 2017

Onuesoke said that successive governments have plunged about $8bn into the complex since 1979. He lamented that the FG has been wasting the huge sum of N2 billion for payment of staff salaries every year for doing nothing.

“Why would anyone continue to pump money into an unproductive enterprise? Why do government keep promoting, paying staff salaries, pensioning, and retiring them?

“Why does government spend an appropriation budget on the maintenance of a plant that is not working? How do you maintain a non-commission plant?” Onuesoke queried.

The Ajaokuta steel plant has been in a moribund state for four decades with no concrete plans on the ground for its full resuscitation.

What you should know 

  • Nairametrics earlier reported on the 3 key reasons why the Ajaokuta Steel Plant has remained moribund for more than 4 decades. You can find them here
  • The Ajaokuta steel company was constructed by the Soviet Union in 1979 under a cooperation agreement with Nigeria, the complex reached 98% completion by 1994.

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