Alleged Money Laundering: Internet Big Boy Mompha Gets N100m Bail

Social media celebrity,  Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha has been granted N100m bail by a Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday.

The antigraft agency, the economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had picked up Mompha on his way to Dubai at the Lagos Airport and he was arraigned for alleged N33billion fraud.

After his first arraignment, he was remanded in the commission’s custody following a court order.

The court had heard that suspected internet fraudster has a bank account balance of only N598,000.

The antigraft agency had accused him of retaining an aggregate of N32.9bn in the bank account of his alleged firm, Ismalob Global Investment Ltd, between 2015 and 2018.

He was arraigned alongside Ismalob Global Investment, on 14 counts of alleged fraud, money laundering and running a foreign exchange business without the authorisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

During the opening of trial, EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Oyedepo presented three witnesses before Justice Mohammad Liman.

The first witness who is a CBN official, Anne Ezekannagha told the court that the CBN had no record of licensing Ismalob Global Investment Limited as a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator.

She further said for the CBN to licence a firm as a BDC operator, it must show evidence of incorporation as a limited liability company by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), adding that all licensed BDCs have a transaction limit of $5,000.

When the defense counsel, Oyewole, asked whether it was unlawful for an individual who has foreign currency in his domiciliary account to give foreign currency to a friend in exchange for naira, the CBN official said it is lawful if it was not a commercial transaction but becomes a commercial transaction if it involves making profit.

The second witness, Peter Adegoke, said the evidence showed that Mompha was the sole signatory to Ismalob Global’s naira account.

Reading from the firm’s statement of account, Adegoke told the court that between 2015 and October 2019, there was a total inflow of N18.5bn into the account, while a total of about N18bn moved out within the same period. The current account balance is N598,000.

The third witness who is a Benin City-based BDC operator, Ikenna Okafor, said he did business with Ismalob Global Investment Limited through “one of its directors, Alhaji Ahmadu Mohammed.”

According to Okafor, Mohammed used to come to his base in Benin, Edo State, to buy Euro in the name of Ismalob Global Investment Limited.

“After negotiation with Ismalob Global Investment Limited through Alhaji Mohammed, he usually made payment into my account through Ismalob,” Okafor said.

Under cross-examination by Oyewole, Okafor who said he met Mompha for the first time three days ago at the EFCC office in Ikoyi explained that was himself detained for seven days by the EFCC before being released on an administrative bail during the week.

Justice Liman adjourned further proceedings till January 8, 2020 and admitted Mompha to bail in the sum of N100m with one surety who must be a landed property owner.

He was ordered to deposit his passport with the Chief Registrar of the court and report at the EFCC office every fortnight to show that he has not left the country.

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