Prosecutors in the United States have asked a federal judge to sentence Nigeria’s Ramon Abbas, more commonly called “Hushpuppi” to 11 years in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a multinational conspiracy that earned him millions of dollars between 2019 and 2020. American attorneys led by Khaldoun Shobaki in the U.S. Central District of California (Los Angeles) argued that Hushpuppi should also be asked to pay $1.7 million in restitution; $500,000 in fines and $100 in administrative fees, per recommendations submitted ahead of his sentencing on September 21, Peoples Gazette reports, which it cited was contained in September 7 filing.
“The government recommends that defendant be sentenced to 135 months’ imprisonment, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, and that defendant be ordered to pay restitution of $1,732,841.34, a fine of $500,0000, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.”
Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in June 2020, and subsequently flown to the U.S., where he pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2021 and was ordered to remain in custody pending sentencing. The sentence hearing was initially moved by Judge Wright from February 14 to July 11 and has now been moved to September 21 at the counsel’s request. He has been in custody since his arrest in Dubai and rendition to the U. S. in June 2020. Abass thereafter entered into a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. government in July 2021, in the hope of getting a lighter punishment. Despite pleading guilty, Hushpuppi will not be exempted from paying restitution. The prosecutors had argued that their sentencing recommendations were appropriate considering the gravity of Hushpuppi’s crimes. The government said one of his co-conspirators Ghaleb Alaumary was sentenced to 140 years in jail for violating the same set of criminal codes.
“By his own admission, during just an 18-month period defendant conspired to launder over $300 million,” the prosecutors said. “While much of this intended loss did not ultimately materialise, defendant’s willingness and ability to participate in large-scale money laundering highlights the seriousness of his criminal conduct.”
The government said Abbas’ criminal path was premeditated, even though he had a clear chance to choose a rewarding career as a law-abiding citizen.
“Defendant’s history and personal characteristics are not mitigating. Indeed, given his stable family and education, defendant was well situated to be a law-abiding member of society,’’ officials said.
“Instead, he chose to pursue a global celebrity lifestyle by swindling innocent victims and laundering money for criminals of all stripes. His greed and ego have driven the many offenses he is known to have engaged in, and he has made a living and cultivated a following by using his ill-gotten gains to create an extravagant lifestyle.”
Hushpuppi had previously tried to seek a release on humanitarian grounds, but Judge Otis D. Wright declined his pleas for failing to comply with extant court rules. The $2.2 million in restitution and fines would add to the millions of dollars already confiscated from bank accounts and Bitcoin wallets linked to the fraudster following his arrest.