The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday re-arraigned Internet celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, alias Mompha, before the Federal High Court in Lagos for money laundering charges.
The anti-graft agency in November last year arraigned Mompha on 14 counts bordering on fraud, money laundering and running a foreign exchange business without the authorisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He pleaded not guilty and was granted N100m bail.
At Wednesday’s return trial date, however, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the charges against Mompha had been amended, praying that his client and his co-defendant, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, be re-arraigned.
When the amended charges were read to them, the defendants pleaded not guilty.
However, the defence counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), sought a short adjournment to study the amended charge sheet he said was only served on him in court on Wednesday morning.
Justice Mohammed Liman adjourned the matter till March 18.
As opposed to the old charge sheet, which had 14 counts, the amended charge sheet contains 22 counts.
In the first and second counts, the EFCC alleged that between 2015 and 2018 Mompha procured Ismalob Global Investment Limited (2nd defendant) to retain an aggregate of N32.95bn in its bank account.
The EFCC said he ought to have reasonably known that the funds formed parts of proceeds of an unlawful act; to wit: fraud.
In the counts against Ismalob Global Investment Limited, the EFCC said as a designated non-financial institution, the firm failed to report to them within seven days the huge single lodgement and transfers such as N104.8m, N135m, N20m, N150m, N22.3m, N100m and N42m.
Furthermore, the EFCC alleged that not being an authorised foreign currency exchange buyer appointed by the CBN, Mompha negotiated several foreign exchange transactions with different individuals in the sums of N20m, N22.3m, N30m, N100m and N40.7m.
He was also accused of making cash payments of €299,000, €213,675, €273,000 to one Ahmed Sarki said to have died.
These offences were said to be contrary to Section 18(c), 15(2)(d), 15(3) and Section 10 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
The EFCC said Mompha and the firm also violated Sections 5 and 29(1)(c) of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous (Provisions) Act Cap F34 LFN 2004.