Court Sends Two Nigerians To Jail For Alleged €14.7m COVID-19 PPE Fraud

Two Nigerians – Babatunde Adesanya and Akinpelu Abass – have been remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre for their role in a major multi-million Euro scam bordering on procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The duo were remanded on Monday by Justice Anwuli Chikere Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and adjourned the matter until November 9 to hear the application for bail.

The Federal Government charged Adesanya, a 50-year old graduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and the Managing Director of Musterpoint Investment Nigeria Limited, Akinpelu Abass, for fraud.

Earlier, the Attorney -General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, SAN, alleged that the defendants were members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network.

The federal government alleged that they cloned the corporate Website of ILBN Holdings BV, Holland to transact with and defrauded a businessman, Freiherr Hahn, a representative of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

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In the 10-count, the defendants were said to have fraudulently obtained 1.5 million Euros and another 880,000 Euros as an advance payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs, worth 14.7 million Euros from Hahn.

Adesanya and Abass both pleaded not guilty.

Counsel to the defendants, Ms Bunmi Aina-Craig, applied for bail for her clients but the prosecution said that they had not been served with the application for bail.

The duo were arrested in September. After their arrest, the Nigerian Police had issued a statement saying they acted in cohort with Holland-based Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder.

The arrest was made after a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) received by the Bureau from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the police authorities said.

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The police authorities said the treaty contained a request from the German Government for investigations into a fraudulent transaction on the procurement of COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment linked to a Nigerian-based Bank Account.

“The suspects fraudulently obtained from Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn the sum of 1.5m Euro and another 880,000 Euro as advanced payment for the supply of COVID-19 PPEs valued at 14.7million Euros,” the police said.

“Disturbed by the non-arrival of the PPEs, Mr Freiherr Fredrick Von Hahn eventually visited the corporate office of ILBN Holdings BV in Holland to inquire reasons for the delay in supplying the items only to find out that the company never did business with him and that the transaction was a scam.”

The police said Fredrick reported the case of fraud to the Police in Holland and this led to the arrest of Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder in Holland and investigations extended to Nigeria.

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Investigation by INTERPOL Nigeria revealed that Babatunde Adesanya received 498,000 Euro from Eduardus Boomstra and Geradius Maulder through his Citibank London account and transferred same to an account number domiciled with a Lagos branch of a leading commercial bank.

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