UAE helps US in charging Nigerian influencer Hushpuppi

Chief of anti-money laundering unit says country's role was crucial

Related: Nigerian influencer Hushpuppi pleads guilty to money laundering in US court

The UAE played a key role in bringing Nigerian Instagram celebrity Raymond "Hushpuppi" Abbas before a US court to face charges of money laundering.

Abbas, 37, was arrested in Dubai last year in a raid at a five-star hotel.

He pleaded guilty to money laundering in a US court last month and could face 20 years in prison.

Abbas, with five others, faces charges over an elaborate scheme to defraud a Qatari school founder and launder the proceeds through bank accounts around the world.

"The defendants allegedly faked the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a bogus website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretence going after the victim was tipped off," said acting US attorney Tracy Wilkison.

"Abbas, who played a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means. In conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will identify and prosecute perpetrators of business email compromise scams, which is a massive and growing international crime problem."

Hamid Al Zaabi, director general of the UAE's Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, said the case was a testament to UAE's commitment to international co-operation on these cases, state news agency Wam reported.

"This case will act as a landmark for the effectiveness of multinational collaboration," Mr Al Zaabi said.

"While led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the UAE law enforcement community played a strategic role in the apprehension of the defendants."

The office was established in February to combat money launderers, organisations and people suspected of financing terrorists and organised crime.

Abbas, meanwhile, has more than two million followers on Instagram. He is known for his displays of wealth on social media.

The court heard of his extravagant lifestyle – he lived in the residence of the Palazzo Versace on Dubai Creek and owned a fleet of luxury cars.

Original raid on Hushpuppi's Versace residence apartment - in pictures

Updated: August 6th 2021, 6:33 AM