LAWFUEL.COM – Legal Newswire –
LEV L. DASSIN, United States Attorney for the Southern
District of New York, and JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR., the Assistant
Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the indictment and arrest
of PAUL GABRIEL AMOS in connection with an elaborate,
internationally coordinated scheme to gain access to, or “take
over,” an account at Citibank in Manhattan belonging to the
National Bank of Ethiopia (“NBE”), and to steal approximately
$27,167,078 from that account. As detailed in an Indictment
returned yesterday in Manhattan federal court:
NBE serves as the central bank for Ethiopia and
maintains offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Citibank N.A.
provided U.S. Dollar account facilities to NBE through an account
at Citibank’s offices at 111 Wall Street in Manhattan. During the
period September through November 2008, AMOS and his coconspirators
caused bogus documents to be sent to Citibank from,
among other places, Lagos, Nigeria. These bogus documents included
a “Corporate Resolution for Banking” purportedly issued by senior
NBE officials, and a purported “Global Manual Transaction
Authorization.” Signatures on those documents appeared to match
the signatures of NBE officials in Citibank’s records.
The Authorization, among other things, purported to authorize Citibank
to accept wire transfer instructions from NBE by facsimile, and
included a list of authorized officials – including the purported
Governor of NBE and five other purported NBE officials – who could
be contacted by telephone to confirm details of any fax
instructions received, in what was referred to as a “call back”
security check. In fact, the Corporate Resolution and the
Authorization, while accepted as valid by Citibank, were
forgeries and had not in fact been authorized by NBE. Moreover,
the telephone contact numbers that AMOS and his co-conspirators
provided on the Authorization form did not belong to actual NBE
officials in Ethiopia, but instead were Nigeria, South Africa and
United Kingdom mobile telephone numbers used by co-conspirators.
After supplying Citibank with the bogus Corporate
Resolution and Authorization documents, AMOS and his coconspirator
caused instructions to be sent to a Citibank payments
unit in Buffalo, New York, directing Citibank to wire funds from
NBE’s account to various accounts controlled by AMOS and his coconspirators.
Citibank verified these instructions through call
back security checks with one or more of the purported NBE
officials. In this manner, between October 2 and October 16,
2008, AMOS and his co-conspirators caused Citibank to make a
total of approximately 24 wire transfers, totaling approximately
$27,167,078, to various accounts controlled by AMOS and his coconspirators
in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, China,
Cyprus, and the United States.
The Indictment against AMOS was returned late yesterday
and charges him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud
and wire fraud. If convicted, AMOS faces a maximum sentence of
30 years’ imprisonment.
AMOS, 37, a citizen of Nigeria, resided in Singapore
until his arrest in Los Angeles on January 15, 2009, while he was
seeking to enter the United States. The case has been assigned to
United States District Judge PAUL A. CROTTY. AMOS will be
presented later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge DEBRA FREEMAN.
Mr. DASSIN praised the investigative work of the FBI in
this case. He also thanked Citibank for its assistance in the
investigation. Mr. DASSIN said the investigation is continuing.
This investigation is being handled by the Major Crimes
Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant United
States Attorneys MARCUS A. ASNER and SEETHA RAMACHANDRAN are in
charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely
accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.