FINANCIAL CRIME – A Nigerian previously accused of swindling Citibank of millions of dollars was on Wednesday (Oct 25) charged with money laundering.
Paul Gabriel Amos, a 46-year-old Singapore Permanent Resident, was believed to be involved in a scheme to dupe Citibank in New York into transferring US$27 million (S$36.8 million) from an account held by the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the country’s central bank.
The money was wired to accounts that Amos and other conspirators held around the world.
Amos faces nine charges in Singapore – eight under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act and one under the Penal Code for receiving stolen property involving nearly S$2 million.
He has also been charged with three counts under the Road Traffic Act, including for dangerous driving and driving without a licence.
On Oct 2, 2016, Amos’ bright blue Lamborghini was caught on camera speeding and zipping between cars, causing near-accidents along East Coast Parkway. The incident, which was captured by a car’s dashboard camera, went viral online.
ELABORATE SCHEME TO TRICK CITIBANK
The scheme to trick Citibank in New York City took place from September to November 2008.
Amos and his co-conspirators allegedly forged NBE documents and sent them to Citibank, instructing the bank to wire funds from NBE’s account to various accounts controlled by Amos and his co-conspirators, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Citibank wired US$27,167,078 to those accounts before the fraud was discovered.
In October 2008, Amos facilitated the transfer of S$987,526.40 into an OCBC account in Singapore to help a person known as Robert Umohette “retain (his) benefits from criminal conduct,” according to Singapore court documents.
Days later, Amos received S$426,995.55 – allegedly stolen – in a Singapore DBS account. He is accused of transferring S$300,000 to a Citibank Maxisave account, and spending another S$60,000 on “personal expenses” as well as S$31,400 on a deposit for a BMW car, court documents state.
In November 2008, he allegedly used his ill-gotten gains to pay a “supplier” S$280,000, and IT firm Axon Consulting S$2,128.
Amos was arrested in Los Angeles in January 2009 when he tried to enter the US.
According to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office in February that year, he was indicted “in connection with an elaborate, internationally coordinated scheme … to ‘take over’ an account at Citibank in Manhattan belonging to the National Bank of Ethiopia” to steal more than US$27 million.
Amos is married to a Singaporean, and his two children aged 12 and 13 are also Singaporean. His defence lawyer KR Manicka said Amos is not a flight risk and he was on Wednesday offered bail at S$150,000.
The case will be heard again on Nov 22.
If convicted of offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, Amos could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to S$500,000 per charge.
If convicted of dangerous driving, he faces up to one year’s jail and/or a fine of up to S$5,000.