Mompha seeks court’s permission for Dubai trip, EFCC grumbles

Mompha


Internet personality, Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha, who is facing money laundering charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, submitted an application, seeking the permission of the court to travel to Dubai to visit his wife and children.

His lawyer, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), told Justice Mohammed Liman that his client desired to visit his young children whom he had not seen for some time.

But the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, expressed reservation about the request, calling the court’s attention to the coronavirus pandemic.

The prosecutor told the judge that the Federal Government as of Wednesday’s morning had announced the placement of travel ban on 13 countries.

“The countries are China, Iran, South Korea, Germany, Italy, United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Japan,” Oyedepo said.

Asked by the judge if he was formally opposing Mompha’s travel application, Oyedepo said he had just been served with the application and he still had time to study it and take a decision.

Justice Liman adjourned further hearing in Mompha’s case till today (Thursday).

Meanwhile, earlier in the Wednesday’s proceedings, the EFCC fielded four witnesses in furtherance of its case against Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited.

An investigating officer of the EFCC, Kaina Garuba, who appeared as the eight prosecution witness, told the court that Mompha gave false information to the anti-graft agency as to when his company started operations.

He said though Mompha told the EFCC that his company commenced operations in July 2016, investigation revealed that the company started operations in December 2015.

“Investigation revealed that there was suppression of information on the operations of the company for about seven months for which taxes were not paid,” Garuba said.

In the amended 22 counts, the EFCC alleged that between 2015 and 2018, Mompha procured Ismalob Global Investment Limited to retain an aggregate of N32.95bn in its bank account.

The EFCC said he ought to have reasonably known that the funds formed parts of proceeds of an unlawful act; to wit: fraud.

In the counts against Ismalob Global Investment Limited, the EFCC said as a designated non-financial institution, the firm failed to report to the EFCC within seven days huge single lodgments and transfers such as N104.8m, N135m, N20m, N150m, N22.3m, N100m and N42m.

Furthermore, the EFCC alleged that not being an authourised buyer of foreign exchange currency appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mompha negotiated several foreign exchange transactions with different individuals in the sums of N20m, N22.3m, N30m, N100m and N40.7m.

He was also accused of making cash payments of €299,000, €213,675, €273,000 to one Ahmed Sarki, said to be deceased.

These offences were said to be contrary to Section 18(c), 15(2)(d), 15(3) and Section 10 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

The EFCC said Mompha and Ismalob Global Investment Limited also violated sections 5 and 29(1)(c) of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous (Provisions) Act Cap F34 LFN 2004.

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