By Sharon Ngozi Nwabiani (Senior Correspondent, in Lagos)
Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has convicted and sentenced an internet fraudster, Hamza Koudeih, to one year imprisonment.
Koudeih alongside Kayode Phillips were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, November 28, 2019, before Justice Muslim S. Hassan on a 25-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering.
The defendants, who are high-valued targets in Organized Cyber Syndicate Network, OCSN, were arrested for their alleged involvement in various cyber crimes and money laundering.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Kayode Phillip (a.k.a Voice of the King) and Hamza Koudeih (a.k.a. HK) sometime in May, 2019 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired among yourselves to commit an offence to wit: conversion of the aggregate sum of $7, 069, 000 (Seven Million, Sixty-Nine Thousand United States Dollars), £1, 000, 000 (One Million Pounds) and €80,000 (Eighty Thousand Euro), which sum you reasonably ought to have known form part of the proceeds of fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18 (a), 15 (2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2015 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”
The defendants, who are accomplices to a notorious internet fraudster, Ismailia Mustapha, alias Mompha, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the Commission, thereby leading to their full trial.
On July 18, 2021, Koudeih, who is the second defendant, had sought the leave of the court to travel to his country, Lebanon for psychiatric treatment.
However, the application was refused by the court.
Consequently, in view of the overwhelming evidence against him before the court, Koudeih approached the prosecution for a plea bargain.
The agreement thereof was filed before the court by the prosecution, with an amended charge on Wednesday, September 8, 2021.
At the resumed sitting on Thursday, September 9, 2021, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, presented the terms of the agreement to the court , pursuant to Section 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015. According to him, “Koudeih entered a bond with the EFCC to be of good behaviour and never to be involved in any form of economic and financial crimes both within and outside the shores of the country.”
Delivering his judgment, Justice Ringim convicted and sentenced him to one year imprisonment , with an option of fine of N1m .
The Judge ordered the forfeiture of the sum of N100m concealed by Koudeih in Zenith Bank Plc account number 1014845962 of CHK Property Investment Ltd. to the Federal Government.
Justice Ringim also ordered forfeited a Mercedes Benz GLE43 with chasis number HJGED6EBXHA063213; two pieces of iPhone and a HP Desktop computer recovered from Koudeih to the Federal Government. NNL.