Sunmola the bandit and super crook
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Donald J. Trump the President of the United States of America delivered his first address since his inauguration before a joint session of Congress. As it was only to be expected, the Republican majority rewarded him with general applause until the crescendo climaxed with a standing ovation, when he enjoined all Americans: ‘‘I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of The American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and-Believe in ourselves. Believe in your future and believe, once more, in America.’’ His fellow Republicans rose to their feet and it was left to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, the fugitive CIA consultant to publish the rest of the President’s address: ‘‘The time for trivial fights is behind us. However, we are going to make an exception of this Nigerian guy Sunmola. Let me share with you the report which the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey has just passed to me.’’
Headline: ‘U.S. jails Nigerian 27 years for $1.7 million internet scam.’
‘‘A U.S. court last Thursday sentenced a Nigerian, Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola, to 27 years in jail for the international romance scam he perpetrated from 2007 to 2014. Lagos-born Sunmola, who was the ringleader of a love scam organisation based in South Africa, was also ordered to repay $1.7 million.
Judge David Herndon of a U.S. district Court in East St. Louis heard how Sunmola and others scammed many American women of millions of dollars while parading themselves as American soldiers stationed overseas or engineers working on a large government contract in South Africa.
They cultivated romantic relationships with dozens of women using pictures of men they found online, sometimes pictures of dead servicemen from memorial websites. Prosecutors said Sunmola’s activities drove some to bankruptcy and at least one to the brink of suicide. The 33-year-old showered the women with poetry, cards, flowers, stuffed animals and chocolates until he had successfully entrapped them.
Once his target was entrapped, Sunmola began to manufacture emergencies, each of which required increasingly large amounts of money from his victims. Sunmola used their money for lavish parties, two Range Rovers, four properties in South Africa and a $363,000 home in Nigeria, prosecutors said.
A federal grand jury sitting in East St. Louis indicted Sunmola in November 2013 on charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion. After two days of a jury trial, Sunmola pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion. In his ruling Judge Herndon said, ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘mail and wire fraud,’ and ‘interstate extortion’ hardly sound like the kinds of crimes that leave broken lives, wrecked women, fractured families, devastation, desires to die, humiliation and shame so extreme. But then, his charm turned to bullying, name calling, extortion, unthinkable demands and threats. Thoughts of paradise turned into thoughts of hell and, for some, thoughts of suicide. The most devastating crime one could ever imagine without laying hands or even eyes on another human being.”
When Sunmola completes his 27-year prison term, he will be deported to Nigeria. Donald Trump was incandescent with rage. ‘‘Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people that we would keep America safe from drug traffickers and ‘‘419’’ (Advance Fee Fraud) fraudsters. I have set up a special committee under Mayor ‘’Rudi’’ (Rudolf William Louis) Guiliani to tackle cybercrime- especially cyber security. Cyber intrusion is the fastest-growing crime in the United States and a major threat to national security.’’ CBS was quick to endorse President Trump’s verdict on Nigeria by devoting prime time to the following BREAKING NEWS:
“The United States has branded Nigeria a home of fraud as it also expressed concern over the capacity of Nigeria’s States Security Service, SSS, to investigate money laundering.”
As confirmation of the gravity of the concern of the President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump personally authorised the release of the following report which had already been leaked by Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden the Fugitive CIA consultant:
Headline: ‘U.S. govt expresses concern over Nigeria’s SSS’ ability to investigate fraud.’
As the President Muhammadu Buhari administration continues its anti-corruption effort, the United States government has expressed concern over the capacity of Nigeria’s States Security Service, SSS, to investigate money laundering. The U.S. government also expressed worry about the SSS’ refusal to share intelligence with sister agencies to investigate financial improprieties.
“There are concerns about the Department of State Services’ capacity to investigate money laundering and that it does not share case information with other agencies that also conduct financial investigations,” the report stated.
The assessment is contained in the March 2017 edition of the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) authored by the US Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs.
The report, which highlighted major steps that countries and jurisdictions considered major hubs for money laundering have taken to improve their anti-money laundering (AML) regimes, also flayed Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for its over-reliance on investigation by confession and its failure to conduct investigations with the involvement of prosecutors.
It stated that the EFCC’s reliance on formal mutual legal assistance with the U.S. to collect admissible evidence in money laundering cases was a major challenge in its effort to curb financial crimes.
It praised the EFCC for its “aggressive” probe of high-profile corruption but said that the conviction rate was regrettable ; “However, the EFCC’s conviction rates continue to be low due in part to gaps in the judicial system that cause cases to languish in the system for long periods of time without resolution,” the report said. While praising Nigerian banks for their willingness to submit currency transactions reports, it observed that the high volume of the reports and the cash-based nature of the country’s economy made it difficult to detect suspicious transactions. The report, which described Nigeria as “a major drug transhipment point and a significant centre for financial crime”, slammed Nigeria’s financial institutions for engaging in “currency transactions related to international narcotics trafficking that include significant amounts of US currency.”
The INCSR observed that criminal organisations, corrupt officials, businessmen, terrorist group and internet fraudsters take advantage of Nigeria’s weak law, poor enforcement, geographical location, porous borders and socioeconomic conditions to launder proceeds of crime. “Criminal proceeds laundered in Nigeria derive partly from foreign drug trafficking and criminal activity including illegal oil bunkering, bribery and embezzlement, contraband smuggling, theft, and financial crimes. Public corruption is also a significant source of laundered criminal proceeds. “International advance fee fraud, also known as “419 fraud” in reference to the fraud section in Nigeria’s criminal code, remains a lucrative financial crime,” it states.
It observed that Nigeria made limited progress in passing its anti-money laundering legislation. It particularly frowned at the failure of the government to sign the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Centre (NFIC) Bill, which would grant autonomy to the NFIU, and the Proceeds of Crime (POC) Bill passed by the National Assembly in 2014 and 2015, respectively. “There has also been little movement on a draft mutual legal assistance bill, pending in the National Assembly since 2015,” the report says. It, however, praised the government for the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), saying it had improved transparency and streamlined revenue collection and expenditure.
“In 2016 President Buhari implemented several transparency measures, such as requiring all government entities, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, to remit nearly all revenues to a Treasury Single Account (TSA),” the report said.
“The recent implementation and enforcement of the TSA as well as the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System are intended to make government revenue collection and expenditures more streamlined and transparent.”
Randle is a former president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).