The United States Department of Justice has written to the United States Magistrate Judge in Eastern District of New York, Ramon Reyes, claiming that Abidemi Rufai, a former aide to Ogun Governor, Dapo Abiodun, provided a suspected fraudster as surety.
The Acting US Attorney, Tessa Gorma, in a letter on Sunday, said the “surety is a suspect in an investigation into an email impersonation scheme,” PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reports.
Rufai, who served as the Deputy Director-General of the Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation in the last governorship election in the state, was arrested on May 14 at the JFK Airport in New York in the US.
His arrest followed a criminal complaint of alleged wire fraud for his scheme to steal over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department, the acting US Attorney, Tessa M. Gorman announced.
Last Tuesday, his lawyer, Michael Barrow, said the accused person denied “involvement in these transactions.”
He was initially denied bail after his brother, a New York attorney, Alabi Rufai, was declined to post a $300,000 surety bond.
But Reyes ruled that a New York state resident and family friend of Rufai´s could post the bond and serve as Rufai´s custodian until his trial in Tacoma.
A registered nurse who is also a Nigerian, Nekpen Soyemi, told Reyes she would guarantee a $300,000 bond and allow Rufai to stay at her home pending trial.
On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Seattle sent a letter to Reyes raising questions, including one about money allegedly deposited into a bank account in Soyemi´s name.
The Acting U.S. Attorney, Gorma, said in her letter to the court that Soyemi is a suspected fraudster and should not be allowed to stand surety for Rufai.
The letter reads, “First, the FBI has conducted research into the Surety and has learned information indicating that the Surety is not an appropriate person to perform that role.
“In 2015, the Surety’s bank (Bank of America) issued a report naming the Surety as a suspect in an investigation into an email impersonation scheme.
“According to the bank’s report, a person purporting to be a donor deposited $134,000 into the bank account of a legitimate nonprofit. The “donor” (who was never identified) then contacted the non-profit and stated that some of the deposited funds were intended for a different recipient.
“The donor asked the non-profit to wire the excess funds to three different accounts, one of which was a Bank of America accounts in the Surety’s name. The report indicates that the Surety then made cash withdrawals of the proceeds at two different B of A locations. The Surety did not respond to inquiries from Bank of America.
“Second, FBI’s research was unable to confirm that the Surety owns the listed real property. Mortgage and deed records for the property indicate that it was last purchased by an individual with the initials L.S.G. on November 7, 2014.”
She further said that the FBI could not locate records showing that the Surety has an interest in the property.
“The Surety has also submitted records showing that she has $335 in Robinhood investment account and $1,838 in a checking account. Neither submission suggests the Surety is in a position to secure a $300,000 bond.”
Soyemi, in reaction, told the judge that her father had opened the account for her when she was in college. Soyemi said she had no knowledge of the transaction referred to by prosecutors.
However, the Magistrate Judge, Reyes, delayed the release of Rufai until May 25 to give enough time to federal prosecutors to appeal the order.
The U.S. government earlier told the court that it is dangerous to release Rufai on bail, claiming the suspect presents an extreme risk of flight and “if he does escape to Nigeria, extradition will be extraordinarily difficult or impossible because of his ties to the Nigerian government.”