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Hamza Koudeih: Unravelling A Money Laundering Honcho

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Hamza Koudeih

Hamza Koudeih is a Lebanese, resident in Lagos and steeped in money. From his $1.3million residence in Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower to his high-end automobiles, Hamza Koudeih oozes money-all of which he made doing nothing in the country but money laundering- which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says he has done to the tune of $19million.

Those who have followed the unraveling of a Lebanese man, Hamza Koudeih by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), would readily agree that it is misleading to judge a book by its cover. He is unassuming, comes off innocuous, and given to sedentary lifestyle.

In the swank 33-flight Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, where he nestles with his young wife, he chose the fourth floor. This is to earn him some distance, even from his equally upscale neighbours.

Within the vicinity of this Victoria Island, Lagos high-end real estate, Koudeih ensures that no more than a moderate whiff of wealth and affluence trail his path. This is to belie his ill-gotten wealth and the fact that he dwells in $1.3million worth of residence.

To a few who know him, he is no more than a boardroom technocrat, who pulls the stops in THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited. But the Koudeih whom many more do not know is a façade, an edifice of fraud; evil genius, a wise guy-a man much more than whom and what people think he is.

He amassed obscene wealth, doing nothing over the years in Nigeria barring crimes and criminalities, having fashioned a trans-Atlantic money laundering network.

Within the local scene, he has high net worth allies that includes social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha popularly known as (Mompha), whom the Commission picked up on Friday, 18 October, 2019 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while he was on his way to Dubai, United Arab Emirate. Mompha’s arrest laid the path to that of Koudeih.

Investigations by the EFCC established that while Mompha, who camouflages as a bureau de change operator has used his firm-Ismalob Global Investments Limited-to launder about N14 billion, Koudeih through his THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited has laundered about N19 billion. Evidently, the two are kingpins in a criminal web of cyber criminals who through the three firms, laundered a jaw-dropping N33 billion.

Before the ring was busted, both men had featured on EFCC and United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) radar as a high valued targets in Organised Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN) and particularly as honchos in a trans-national network of cyber criminals. These according to head, EFCC Cyber crime Unit (name withheld) were established by Intel, gathered by the EFCC and the FBI in their recent joint operation, tagged, “Operation Rewired.”

Worrisome is that Mompha was able to successfully operate 51 fraudulent bank accounts, through which the monies were laundered even with the enhanced account tracking and surveillance which the Bank Verification Number (BVN), introduced by the Central Bank of Nigerian in February, 2014 provides.

Koudeih was not an easy picking for the EFCC. Armed with precision Intel, additionally gathered by the EFCC, its operatives tracked him to his lair in Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower and placed the piece of the real estate, where he has his apartment on a lockdown.

Koudeih’s world of crime is heavily reinforced with a string of top-notch security architecture that inures and shields him.

Aside surveillance cameras and closed-circuit television (CCTV), that capture anyone that comes within range, his apartment is secured three times over with a triple reinforced fire-proof door, designed to withstand violent breaches, including bullet shots.

Apparently convinced that the EFCC was on wild goose chase for him, Koudeih and his wife refused to yield to all appeals by the operatives to open their maximum security door and let them in, so also the additional entreaties that later came from the tower’s chief security officer.

The pin drop silence that greeted the appeals of EFCC operatives was a dummy to mask their presence inside the apartment, but way down to the ground, Koudeih’s high-end cars, parked in his garage were enough to tell the operatives that he was in.

The lack of cooperation from the Lebanese as well as that from the owners and administrators of Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower left the EFCC with two options-beat a retreat or muscle through. It settled for the latter, reinforcing with men and breaching tools against the armoured door.

The operatives relentlessly deployed the tools against the door, expending more than three gruelling hours before they overcame.

“It was very difficult to gain entry. It was almost like a standoff. We had to send for reinforcement of officers and breaching tools from the office. We had to breach the triple reinforced fire-proof door before we could get in,” head Cyber crime, EFCC, said.

Inside the apartment, the décor, furniture and fittings speak of Koudeih’s high taste that would leave any Arabian prince green with envy. But puzzling is the hideaway between the ceiling and the deck in his bedroom. It provides no comfy, just enough to host and shield anyone while a search lasts.

The wife who was persuaded that her husband was safe and without traces above the ceiling told the prying EFCC operatives that the man they seek has escaped through the window. It was a tale that didn’t stick-escaping through the window from that height with bare hands is stuff only for the fairytale Spiderman. The EFCC operatives were, therefore certain that Koudeih was available and within reach, but puzzled by the fact that he was nowhere to be found, even with the entire apartment having been turned inside-out, exposing a cache of voodoo objects, that was carefully tucked away.

A slight misalignment in the well manicured ceiling in the bedroom was the lead that unraveled the Lebanese. “We saw from the ceiling, how he climbed and followed it and helped him down. He had time to breach the ceiling and climbed because of the some much time we spent trying to get into his apartment. His apartment has cameras and CCT, so he saw us and knew we were from the EFCC,” head Cyber crime, EFCC, said.

Taken away were his laptop computer and telephone handset, which is currently undergoing forensic check up in the anti-corruption agency. More good news is that his ring of trans-national cyber crime network had been busted and he will have his day in court.

Reacting to arrest, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu, said Koudeih and Mompha’s arrests are landmark achievements for the EFCC in its fight against cyber crimes and a “red alert to potential fraudsters.

Speaking in an interactive session with anti-corruption stakeholders at the Lagos Zonal Office of the Commission on Thursday, October 31, 2019, he said,“The recent arrests of a social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, and his Lebanese collaborator, Hamza Koudeih, for their alleged involvement in internet-related fraud and money laundering remain a landmark achievement of the EFCC.

“I make bold to tell you that these arrests have further confirmed our commitment to the anti-graft war, while also sending a red alert to potential internet fraudsters.

“I am sure you will be greatly shocked to know that five wristwatches valued at over N60million were recovered from the suspected internet fraudster, Mompha, at the point of arrest.

“Investigation has also revealed that he operates 51 bank accounts in Nigeria with which he acquired properties in Dubai and had laundered about N14billion through a firm known as Ismalob Global Investments Limited. His accomplice, Koudeih, also has two firms namely: THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited with which he has allegedly laundered about N19billion.

Magu emphasized the fact that the Commission, prior to the arrests of both Mompha and Koudeih, had independently launched intensive investigative actions against the Internet fraudsters, popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo Boys, culminating in various strategic raids on their hideouts.

He further stated that the Commission had embarked on the raids even before the recently concluded collaborative operation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, tagged Operation Rewired- an international operation targeted at the Business Email Compromise, BEC, suspects across the world.

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Metro

Why Most Rapists Go Unpunished — Police

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Frank Mba

Frank Mba, spokesperson of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has revealed the reasons most rapists go unpunished in the country.

Mba who appeared on a TVC programme on Thursday said that late report of rape cases and contamination of crime scenes are the major reasons most sexual assault cases are not successfully prosecuted. The Police Spokesman also stated that some rape victims are guilty of withdrawing the allegations after collecting sums of money from the suspect.

“Rape is a very serious criminal offence and rape it is not fun. Rape is not sex. Rape is not lovemaking. Rape is violence. It is a very extreme form of torture. It is a life-threatening event. It is totally humiliating. As a matter of fact, you can define rape as robbery of another persons essense, dignity and the worst form of assault on any woman. It is a serious thing.

“Unfortunately for us, it is one of those crimes that has posed a lot of problems in managing, in presenting, in investigating sometimes and in successfully prosecuting.

“Most cases of rape are unreported. As a matter of fact, some statistics say between 60% to 90% of rape cases are unreported. It is even worse when they are cases that has to do with incest and molestation of children. A lot of these cases are unreported.

“The fundamental problem for us as investigators are three. Number one is the fact that a lot of rape cases are reported very late and the fact that they are reported late, it impacts on the quality and the success of investigations. The longer you stay in reporting a rape case, the higher the probability or the chances that evidence and the crime scene will be mismanaged.

“Although there is no status bar limiting the time you can report a rape case, you can even report twelve months later, but the earlier you report a rape case, the better and higher the chances of success.” he said

The Police Spokesman also emphasized the importance of the sanctity of crime scenes which he mentioned to be the location of the assault and the woman’s body.

He reiterated that not even the water closet of a toilet should be flushed after a crime. According to Frank Mba, these are the things that would be important in gathering evidence that would lead to the imprisonment of the rapist.

“As a matter of fact, in most crimes, how the crime scene is managed determines the success of investigations and people must remember that rape cases are even very special in the sense that in a rape case, there are two immediate crime scenes.

“The first crime scene is place where the crime took place whether it is in a room, a car, a bush path or in a church like the case of Uwa. That particular place where the crime took place is a major crime scene.

“The second crime scene is the body of the woman. Infact the body of the victim is a walking crime scene. It is a living crime scene. It is a mobile crime scene. And how we manage both the physical as well as that living crime scene will determine the success of an investigation.

“Let me give a few tips on how we can manage this because often times, before the police get to the crime scene, a lot of persons have messed up the crime scene.

“Whenever there is a rape, the first thing is to leave the physical crime scene intact. Don’t adulterate them, don’t take anything out of the place, don’t alter the position of any object, don’t touch anything. Don’t even flush the toilet.

“If there is a condom pack there or a used condom, don’t even touch it and for the woman, don’t shower, don’t douch. Don’t change your clothings and if it is a case where we suspect it is a Date rape where probably drug was used or a drug facilitated rape, then the woman has additional responsibility to make sure that she doesn’t urinate except it is a situation where if she doesn’t urinate, she might suffer something. She will need to urinate in the hospital because the first urine after that incident might help us determine the kind of drug that was laced in her drink and if for example you suspect it is a drug-induced rape, don’t dispose any glass cup there or even the drink whether it is a wine. Leave it there for us.”

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California Police Kill Unarmed 22-Year-Old, Who Was On His Knees With His Hands Up

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Police in northern California shot and killed an unarmed 22-year-old man who was on his knees with his hands up outside a Walgreens store.

An officer in the city of Vallejo was inside his car when he shot Sean Monterrosa on Monday night, June 1, amid local and national protests against police brutality.

The officer was responding to a call of alleged looting when he shot the unarmed man, officials said.

Police said an officer mistakenly believed Monterrosa had a gun, but later determined he had a hammer in his pocket.

The killing of Monterrosa, who lived in San Francisco, has sparked intense outrage in the Bay Area, particularly in the city of Vallejo, a city with a long history of police violence and high-profile killings and excessive force complaints, The Guardian reports.

“When confronted by the police, he dropped to his knees and surrendered, and they fired at him,” said Melissa Nold, a Vallejo civil rights attorney representing Monterrosa’s family.

“He wasn’t doing anything to warrant it. They shot him from inside their car. What opportunity did they give him to survive that situation? … It’s egregiously bad.”

In a news conference on Wednesday, two days after the killing, police chief Shawny Williams said officers were responding to a call of possible looting at the pharmacy shortly after midnight when an officer in a cruiser drove up and saw a dozen people in the parking lot getting into a car. A second officer in an unmarked car drove up and found Monterrosa, who was still on the scene, who then kneeled down and started to raise his hands. At this point, the police chief said, this officer “perceived a threat” and fired five shots through his window at Monterosso.

Monterrosa died at the hospital, the chief said.

The chief declined to identify the officer who killed Monterrosa, saying only that the officer was an 18-year veteran of the force. The chief also dodged questions about whether he considered the shooting to be excessive force and ignored questions from angry community members who showed up to a press conference.

The last person killed by Vallejo police was Willie McCoy, a 20-year-old who had been sleeping in his car in February 2019 when six officers fired 55 bullets in 3.5 seconds. One of the six officers who killed McCoy, a rising rapper in the Bay Area, had previously killed an unarmed man who was fleeing on his bike. Another Vallejo officer killed three men in a five-month period and was subsequently promoted.

A memorial in front of Vallejo’s city hall has a sign reading “Blacks and Brown lives matter”.

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Metro

Thief Arrested After Falling Asleep During Robbery Operation [PHOTOS]

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A thief met his waterloo after he fell asleep during a robbery operation at ITV Zanibar presenter, Farouk Karim’s house in Tanzania.

The thief was subsequently apprehended and handed over to the Tanzania police command after he was bundled out of the car where he crashed.

According to journalist Karim, the thief had jumped over his gate, entered into his residence and stole his clothes and shoes.

After the operation, the thief made for Karim’s car where he dozed off. The journalist said he was shocked to the bones when he came out of his house to meet the thief in deep sleep inside his car.

See more photos below;

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