Nigerian national Paul Gabriel Amos was jailed this week after he admitted his connection to the 2008 money laundering case, in which Citibank was duped into transferring a hefty SGD 37.2 million from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE)’s corporate account to various accounts worldwide.
47-year-old Paul Gabriel Amos, who is a Singapore Permanent Resident, is based in Singapore and works as a director of a Singapore-based wholesale company.
Yesterday (17 May), the court heard that Citibank in New York received 24 payment instructions that were believed to be sent by NBE, ordering the bank to transfer the sum to various accounts in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Cyprus and the United States.
An FBI document said that from September through November of 2008, Amos and unidentified co-conspirators sent fake signed documents to Citibank which appeared to match signatures of officials at NBE, the country’s central bank.
Amos and the others were also accused of providing callback telephone numbers for the Ethiopian officials that in fact were mobile phone numbers used by the conspirators in Nigeria, South Africa and Britain. The document said alleged that Amos schemed to ‘gain access to or take over’ the NBE account at Citibank in New York.
Amos told the court that his friend had told him about his involvement in various projects with the Ethiopian Government and about how he had helped cheat the Government of money. The friend, named Robert Umohette, asked Amos to provide an account to transfer the stolen money into.
Amos agreed to help in exchange for a cut of the criminal proceeds.
Unwilling to use his own company’s account for the money laundering scam, however, Amos and another man named Mohammad Sohail decided to use the account of Mac-Warners, an Australia-based firm, to receive the cash. On 2 Oct 2008, Citibank was duped into transferring over USD $1.8 million from NBE’s account to Mac-Warners’ account.
Umohette then told Amos to transfer a part of the ill-gotten gains into a bank account of a firm named Ideal Con. Ideal Con is based in Singapore. Amos instructed Mohammad Sohail to do the job and he transferred about USD $670,000 from Mac-Warners’ account to Ideal Con’s account.
Amos also received over S$420,000 as a commission for completing the job.
He, however, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2009 and pleaded not guilty in US District Court to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. On 21 Feb 2009, Amos was indicted on charges of scheming to steal from NBE’s corporate account.
Yesterday, Amos was sentenced to three years’ jail after he pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly receiving stolen property totalling more than S$1 million. He also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
Interestingly, Amos became better known to Singaporeans after he was spotted driving a blue Lamborghini in a reckless manner. For speeding through a narrow gap between two vehicles along the ECP in 2016, he was fined S$4,200 and disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for a year.