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Alleged N6bn fraud: Court admits FBI reports against Mompha

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EFCC arraigned Mompha on an eight count charge bordering on money laundering

The Lagos High Court in Ikeja has admitted two documents which include a FBI report tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into evidence, one of which contained an investigative report on the iPhone of Internet celebrity Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, alleging it was used for fraudulent practices.

During Monday’s sessions, the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, admitted the EFCC’s materials. The reports are a letter from the EFCC to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States of America and a report from the Bureau.

The EFCC charged Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment, with 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 pretence, and use of property derived from an unlawful act on January 12, 2022.

The offence is a violation of the Advance Fee Fraud Act of 2006 and the EFCC Act of 2004.

The defendants were charged in the charges with conspiracy to launder funds earned via illegal activity, retention of such funds, transfer of funds for a suspect Olayinka Jimoh, also known as Nappy Boy, and unlawful transfer of cash for a record label, among other things.

The EFCC further claimed that Mompha hid his ownership of fine wristwatches and other movable assets worth more than N70 million.

Mompha pleaded not guilty to all eight counts. He also pled not guilty to the first six counts on behalf of his company, Islamob Limited.

Mompha’s counsel, lead by Kolawole Salami, objected to the two documents being entered as evidence today, claiming that they were public records from the US Consulate that required confirmation before they could be included.

“The documents are not certified true copies, and should not be admitted in court,” Salami told the Judge.

Justice Dada, however, overruled the defence counsel’s objection and upheld the arguments of the prosecution who maintained that the FBI documents were original.

“The documents do not require certification,” Dada ruled.

The EFCC counsel, Suleiman Suleiman, had tendered the two documents through his witness, one Ayotunde Solademi, an FBI representative, who was in court to give evidence of the Bureau’s forensic operation.

Solademi, who works at the Legal Attaché office of the FBI in Nigeria, told the court that he had retrieved an iPhone belonging to Mompha with a Faraday bag.

Solademi said the FBI’s forensic operations revealed Mompha’s iPhone was used to send account details to a United Arab Emirates (UAE) telephone number, search for Swift Codes of a bank, and had a compromised Microsoft 365 account.

“The [Mompha’s] iPhone had a compromised Microsoft 365 account and attackers used a fraudulent domain to socially engineer communication to their [Mompha’s] company,” the FBI representative told the court.

The prosecution witness also told the court that the FBI discovered during analysis that Mompha’s iPhone was also used to change payment delivery from cheque to wire transfer.

The Court overruled Mompha counsel’s objection and upheld argument of the prosecution

“The [iPhone] was used to make three attempts to transfer funds. The first two failed, but the third was successful,” Solademi said.

During cross-examination, Salami, the defence attorney, read from a paragraph in the records that specified that the FBI materials should not be used in a legal process unless a separate communication was made.

In his statement, the prosecution witness, Solademi, stated that his appearance in court to give testimony amounts to a separate communication from the FBI allowing the use of the papers in court.

While answering other questions from the defence counsel, the witness stated that he had no idea whether the defendant had ever been arrested by the FBI.

He also revealed that the FBI forensic investigation of Mompha’s iPhone was requested by the EFCC.

However, the defence counsel contended that the FBI representative could not affirm if the iPhone he retrieved from the EFCC at the time of handover belonged to the defendant, Mompha.

Following the hearing, Justice Dada delayed proceedings until November 1, 2023 to allow Mompha’s trial to continue.

 

 

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