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Malaysia’s Political Clown Show – by Cyril Pereira

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Arguably the only useful outcome of the 22-month Pakatan Harapan coalition that ruled Malaysia until February 2020, was court proceedings instituted against former Prime Minister Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi, United Malays National Organization party president. Najib has been convicted and sentenced for massive fraud. Zahid Hamidi’s trial is underway for similar chicanery. The public now sees sworn witness testimony in court about power abuse, and the entitlement impunity of the Malay ruling class. It confirms everything they have long suspected.

Both Najib and Zahid are desperate to stay out of prison, and impatient with the UMNO coalition headed by junior party vice-president Ismael Sabri. Sabri was swiftly endorsed by both for prime minister after they withdrew party support for Muhyiddin Yassin. But he is not saving them. They want to retake power via an accelerated GE15 which is not due till May 2023. Sabri lacks the political authority and incentive to protect them nd they would like to get rid of him in exchange for someone more malleable.

Najib was found guilty by the High Court in July 2020 on all seven charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering. He misappropriated MR42 million from SRC International (former subsidiary of 1MDB).

The Appeal Court judges in December 2021 unanimously upheld his conviction, a RM210 million fine, and 12-year concurrent jail sentence. Najib is challenging the Appellate Court ruling at the apex Federal Court, which set 15-26 August 2022 for the hearing. That is his last legal resort. If he fails here, Najib will have to pay the fine and serve jail time.

US authorities confirmed that US$4.5 billion was stolen from the government-backed investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, of which nearly US$700 million found its way into Najib’s personal accounts.

Political leverage?

Nonetheless, Najib remains popular on Facebook and with UMNO troopers, as he struts around town with police escorts despite his conviction. He led the campaigns for three local elections which UMNO won. No other UMNO leader can rouse the party faithful. Najib is seen as a vote winning machine, with the considerable largesse at his disposal and his po-faced shamelessness.

Meanwhile, Zahid faces 45 charges of corruption, abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, totaling RM114 million. Zahid had ample scope as deputy prime minister and home minister to amass wealth. Najib Razak attends Zahid Hamidi’s trial to lend moral support.

The prospect of being jailbirds hangs over both. They have been hyperactive in lobbying UMNO and pressuring Sabri to bring the 15th general election forward. The rumor mill has GE15 advancing to August, prior to when Najib’s final appeal to the Federal Court is heard, and while Hamidi files for appeal, if found guilty. The election commission machinery is being activated.

Ismael Sabri has no reason to call an early GE. The UMNO party president decides nominations for seats, not Sabri. Coalition partner Parti Islam Se-Malaysia is not eager either, to lose its unearned federal ministerships, and unmerited policy influence. Can Zahid sack Ismael Sabri from the UMNO supreme council as he recently did Ahmad Tajuddin? The prime minster is formally appointed by the Agong, or king, not UMNO. Zahid may not wish to tempt fate.

A royal pardon is the last hope should the courts send these senior Malay politicians to jail. During the end-of-fast national celebrations, Razak shared the high Table with the Agong at the palace, later posting pictures on Facebook, although many regarded his presence as most inappropriate. In any case, Najib can seek a royal pardon only after being incarcerated, if the Federal Court concurs with the Appeal Court.

Double betrayal

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vaporized the ruling Pakatan Harapan government by abruptly resigning without consulting his cabinet, in February 2020. He had dispatched his Bersatu deputy earlier to hold secret talks for a Malay coalition to dislodge the multiracial PH – with himself riding on as PM. Muhyiddin Yassin then snatched leadership of the new coalition and prime ministership, dumping Mahathir from Bersatu as well. It was brutal.

From the start, Mahathir was uneasy as head of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, pressed to fulfil his pre-election promise to hand over the premiership to Anwar Ibrahim, his one-time acolyte. He judged Anwar unfit to be PM. Furthermore, the PH manifesto pledged to undo the counterproductive excesses of the Malay agenda he had railroaded as the country’s strongman for 22 years. PH won overwhelming non-Malay support in GE14 for equitable governance based on need, not race. It won progressive Malay voters too, thanks to Mahathir, to turf out the rotten UMNO-dominated government headed by Najib and Zahid that had enjoyed unbroken rule from 1957.

The PH planned to directly channel development funds to the majority Malays who needed it most. The ruling elite parasites and their cronies would have lost their privileged access to hijack contracts, subsidies and programs, meant to help the poorest. That has been the tragic UMNO governance distortion and big political con of the past four decades.

The elites grip power by scaring the Malay heartland about existential threats to race, religion, and royalty (the 3Rs). These are emotive triggers easily played. The educated next generation is seeing through that lie. No one is threatening the Malays. Many Malays have lost faith in the cynical elites, as they endured Covid-19 clampdowns and mismanaged flooding, that trapped them in their homes, hoisting white flags in a plea for food. They were left to fend for themselves as the elites holidayed in luxury abroad.

The bulk of UMNO branch chiefs and supreme council policymakers euphemistically label themselves bumiputra businessmen. UMNO used to be a party of schoolteachers and village headmen. It has now become synonymous with divisive racism, systemic corruption, ostentatious lifestyles, mistresses, chunky gold watches and leadership rot at all levels, from the federal cabinet to villages.

Holy rule

Mahathir grafted a corrosive Islamic bureaucracy onto the civil service in 1997, to counter the influence of the rural Islamist party PAS. He erected a huge circus tent to absorb otherwise unemployable Islamic graduates. His ploy was to keep them salaried and loyal to UMNO. But such dense religiosity inside the civil service has not blessed governance or promoted ethics, morality, and spiritual renewal.

Instead, it fostered towelhead scrutiny of skirt lengths in government offices and scowling moral policing of Muslims everywhere. This is yet another case of Mahathir being too clever by half. His legitimation of the clerics boomeranged on the civil service, armed forces, police, public hospitals, education system, government, politics, and all citizens. The clerics cannot be questioned as they invoke divine authority.

PAS is now a key part of the federal government by default, for UMNO to cobble a fractious Malay coalition. PAS has naturally grabbed the Islamic steering wheel inside government that Mahathir engineered to keep them out. What supreme irony. He handed them what they could not have dreamed of achieving, for the next half-century, by themselves.

The states of the north-east ruled traditionally by PAS are the most economically backward, with abundant madrassah schools, the highest unemployment, youth drug abuse, child marriages, incest, divorces and family strife. What PAS brings to the national government is a record of abject governance failure. Najib Razak inducted the PAS leadership into the joys of Mercedes cars, gold Rolex watches, luxury holidays abroad, and ostentation. They have not looked back since.

PAS leader Hadi Awang concocted pseudo-religious theory to justify corruption as not hurting anyone if two willing parties collude. After all, claimed Hadi, it is Allah who enables desires in people beyond their financial capacity. Go figure. Malaysia ranks as the world’s most corrupt to conduct business, in the recent Transparency International index.

The country is a global basket case for graft, institutionalized racism, economic mismanagement, reckless public debt, wanton destruction of rainforest and utter lack of national vision. No one knows where the country is heading. Its leaders are too busy thieving its treasury and public assets at speed.

On closer examination, these problems are almost exclusively Malay, not Malaysian. The other races are outside the ring fence of Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy).

Anybody in charge?

Two weak prime ministers squatted sequentially from March 2020 after each convinced the Agong of majority house support in Parliament. Anwar Ibrahim, the putative Opposition chief, signed a pact with the second, Ismail Sabri, not to destabilize his bloated 70-member cabinet with no-confidence motions. Sabri’s obscenely wasteful budgets to please his motley cabinet were allowed to pass without fuss.

Anwar had foolishly rejected the comprehensive co-option and electoral reforms offered by Muhyiddin Yassin, the first house-headcount PM. That deal was painstakingly negotiated by Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming of the DAP (Democratic Action Party). It was a miss that lost the country transparency and accountability in governance. Muhyiddin was desperate, so he conceded. The Opposition wasted a golden chance.

Anwar Ibrahim’s default post as Leader of the Opposition was upgraded to senior minister rank, with commensurate salary, allowances, and perks, as Muhyiddin handed off to Ismail Sabri of UMNO in August 2021. Recently-sacked UMNO supreme council loose-cannon, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman alleged that party president Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak had forced statutory declarations from UMNO MPs, to support Anwar Ibrahim for prime minister, in 2020.

That ruse emboldened Anwar to dramatically blurt “I have the numbers” twice in 2020. He could not produce the name list for the Agong, and so was turned away to abide by constitutional procedures. What happened there? Why did he not have the name list? Were Messrs Zahid Hamidi and Najib Razak holding out for written commitments on their situation? What stymied the ambitious Anwar Ibrahim?

There have been persistent leaks about the PH government engaging in underhand contract abuses too. Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng is on trial now, charged with bribery during his term as chief minister of Penang, for roads and an undersea tunnel project worth RM3.6 billion. Prosecution witnesses alleged fake invoices of dormant companies, and envelopes of cash, as inducement for contracts.

GE15 reprieve?

More than anything else, Malaysian voters were badly let down by the PH government’s failure to implement core promises of electoral reform and fair governance. They wonder why Mahathir was allowed to overrule the cabinet on no-brainer issues like hate preacher Zakir Naik, and to stall on the promised handover to Anwar. Why did everyone, including Anwar, accept inaction, and allow the canny old fox free run?

Member participation rate in the recent PKR elections was so low, it is an alarming red flag. PKR members are disaffected and disinterested. That speaks volumes about Anwar Ibrahim’s failed leadership. Does that auger well for wider non-party support? Rafizi Ramli avoided challenging Anwar Ibrahim, even though he had him checkmated. Everybody is walking on eggshells waiting for Anwar to cancel himself, as it is “not the Malay way” to challenge the wobbly leader.

Rafizi announced grand plans to repeat his whistle-stop truck tour of 2018, to tell the country why it should vote PH again. Voters at GE15 will wonder if this mob can ever get its act together to rule competently, when it cannot even clean out the deadwood “I have the numbers” man, and the haughty Lim Guan Eng, who made himself unacceptable to heartland Malays. Without effective fresh leadership, the failed PH has nothing new for voters. In politics, self-destructing losers are rarely offered a second go.

Cyril Pereira is based in Hong Kong and is a long-time contributor to Asia Sentinel


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North Carolina Man Arrested for Instructing Others on Making and Using Explosives | USAO-EDNC

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WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Duplin County man has been charged in an indictment for teaching another individual how to make and use an explosive, knowing that the individual intended to use that instruction in the attempted murder of federal law enforcement, in violation of 18 USC 1114, all in violation of Title 18, USC Sections 842(p)(2)(B) and 844.  Christopher Arthur, 38, residing in Mount Olive, North Carolina, was arrested on January 22, 2022, and was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr., today.

According to court documents, in 2018 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) received information that another individual was attempting to organize and recruit for a militia group and was preparing to engage against the United States Government.  On May 27, 2020, that individual was stopped by law enforcement in New York and was shot and killed following a two-hour police pursuit and an exchange of gunfire.  During the execution of a search warrant on his vehicle, law enforcement located three improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Numerous additional IEDs and firearms were found in the search of his residence along with multiple Tackleberry Solutions tactical instructional manuals which named as the author Christopher Arthur.  A review of the individual’s cell phone indicated that he had attended training with Arthur at Tackleberry Solutions in Mount Olive for multiple days in March of 2020.

According to the search warrant affidavit for Arthur’s residence, on March 19, 2021, the FBI covertly requested a free PDF document from Tackleberry Solutions.  After a short period of time, an email was received from Arthur indicating that he had to keep parts of the information in the PDF off of the internet since explosives were such a touchy topic.  Arthur also gave his phone number and mailing address.  Arthur then began communicating via phone regarding the manuals.  

On May 5, 2021, Arthur, at Arthur’s residence in Mount Olive, explained how to properly place IEDs through one’s property, the importance of creating a fatal funnel, the setup and use of remote-activated firearms, and how to evade arrest after killing members of law enforcement – all after learning the recipient of the explanation intended to kill federal law enforcement who might come to his home.  At the conclusion, Arthur demonstrated how to make components of IEDs, to include tripwire switches and improvised initiators.  Once he was finished demonstrating how to make the components, Arthur provided them to the recipient of his training.

Subsequent to Arthur’s arrest, a search warrant was executed at his home.  During the search, multiple IEDs, an IED striker plate, an electronic IED trigger and other IED components, a pistol suppressor, bulk gunpowder, and mixed Tannerite explosive were recovered.

“According to these charges, the defendant provided someone with training on explosive devices knowing that person intended to use that information to murder or attempt the murder of law enforcement,” said United States Attorney Michael Easley.  “This type of behavior is criminal, it is unacceptable, and it will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.  Here in Eastern North Carolina, we will protect the brave men and women of law enforcement who are sworn to protect us.  The Justice Department will aggressively investigate and prosecute those whose actions would further violence against those in uniform.  Our public servants in law enforcement deserve nothing less.”

“Law enforcement officers are being feloniously killed in the line of duty at an alarming rate. 2021 saw the most officers murdered since the 9/11 attacks. The behavior alleged in this indictment, training someone in methods of how to kill or injure law enforcement, is both serious and frightening,” said Robert R. Wells, FBI Special Agent in Charge. 

The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Raleigh Police Department and Cary Police Department are investigating the case.

An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


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The FBI went to Trump’s house and Nevada Republicans couldn’t be happier

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Republicans see the FBI’s visit to sunny Florida as a welcome development that will take some sting off Trump’s declining stature – even within much of the far right – and perhaps mitigate the palpable harm Trump brings to Republicans up and down the ballot. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Just last month Trump was right here in Las Vegas preaching about how much he loves law enforcement. 

But then law enforcement came to his house.

The FBI reportedly went to Trump’s compound or lair or whatever it is in Florida to retrieve classified documents and materials that aren’t his to keep. To which the right is saying classified schmassified, this is just a deep state witch hunt, radical leftists, argle bargle etc. 

You can see their point. After all, it’s not like Trump committed an outrageous crime against humanity for which someone should obviously be locked up, like sending emails over a private server.

The details on all this are still pretty scant, but Republicans, the vast majority if not all of whom don’t know any more about what the FBI is doing and why than you do, are now pretty pumped. 

They’ve seemed on their back feet lately, which is weird given the fundamentals of midterm elections when the party out of power routinely obliterates the party that controls the White House. They see the FBI’s visit to sunny Florida as a welcome development that will take some sting off Trump’s increasingly battered brand – even within much of the far right – and perhaps mitigate the palpable harm Trump brings to Republicans up and down the ballot in a general election.

Republican politicians in Nevada and the nation may be outraged on the outside. But they’re giddy on the inside.

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt is a former, if somewhat accidental, Nevada attorney general, the highest law enforcement position in the state even when Laxalt has the job. But he quickly demonstrated his support for law enforcement wilts if the subject of law enforcement’s inquiry is Trump.

Monday’s “raid” of Trump’s Florida monument to his underlying inferiority complex “is just another example of the growing weaponization of our federal agencies by the Left while people like Hunter Biden live freely,” Laxalt tweeted. “Starting Nov. 8th, this power grab will come to an end.”

First, props to Lil’ Adam for rocking it old school and busting out Hunter Biden. Super nice vintage diversion there.

Second, we’re capitalizing “Left” now? Shouldn’t the “Left” at least be an organized thing first? Because it never has been in this country.

But most impressively of course is Laxalt’s use of the term “power grab,” Laxalt being Nevada’s most high-profile early peddler of the Big Lie that culminated in an attempted coup to overturn the will of the U.S. electorate and allow Trump to illegally retain the presidency. 

Power grab? Project much, Adam?

Laxalt has many rivals in the contest to be Nevada’s biggest, most gormless Trump suck-up, but the most notable challenger – and one who has probably garnered just as much if not more national and even international press than Laxalt (sorry, Adam) – is of course GOP secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant.

Taking a break from his busy schedule of spotting a global “cabal” around every corner, under every bed, in every closet, on every judicial bench, and in every election official’s office, Marchant called on all his reindeer friends to join him in an “emergency meeting here in Las Vegas, the source code for election fraud … to express solidarity” with Trump. Such a meeting, Marchant explained, is vital given “federal government provocations to incite political instability so as to prevent President Trump from lawfully gaining the presidency and the Republican party from winning the 2022 Congressional and state general elections.”

Reality check: If Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice was working hand-in-hand with Democrats in a partisan, politicized pursuit of a Democratic agenda, as people like Marchant would like you to believe, the DOJ would have not have sought a search warrant at this stage of the midterm campaigns.

Marchant’s reference to “political instability” is not uninteresting though, if not for the reason Marchant thinks. One of Marchant’s lesser claims to notoriety is standing shoulder to shoulder with Nevada’s fake electors when they signed their phony boney Nevada electoral vote certificate – the one  that was sent to Congress as part of the the plot to either get Mike Pence a) to throw out so-called “contested” states and overturn the election, or b) hanged.

“Incite political instability”? Project much, Jim?

Weirdly, Marchant’s statement failed to provide a time, date and specific location for this very important emergency meeting. Oh no! There might not actually be one. Eh, this might be one of those things where it’s the thought that counts.

Since she is the Republican nominee for Nevada attorney general, Sigal Chattah deserves a mention. For U.S. Department of Justice officials to convince a federal judge to serve a lawful search warrant in connection with an investigation is not an act of law enforcement procedure, according to the woman who wants to be Nevada’s top law enforcement official. Serving a search warrant on Trump is, rather, “how civil wars are started,” Chattah tweeted.

She sounds like a South Carolina fire-eater, circa 1859. If there is a civil war, we all know which side will fire the first shot.

Meanwhile, as of Wednesday morning, one notable GOP hopeful had evidently refrained from joining all the fun, and not rendered a public opinion on the FBI going to Trump’s house. After their candidate sat on stage while Trump called Nevada “a cesspool of crime,” gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo’s handlers may have decided their campaign has had more than enough Trump already, thank you, and doesn’t want to get any more on them.

Respect please, it’s a former president

He may not be a particularly influential member of Congress, but Mark Amodei is Nevada’s only Republican in it. And his statements are always pretty fun, though perhaps not in the way he intends them to be.

“Efrem Zimbalist Jr. is rolling in his grave,” Amodei’s statement begins. For you younger readers, Efrem Zimablist Jr. was an actor who half a century ago starred in a popular television program (for you younger viewers, television is … oh never mind) called The F.B.I. Advising the show, and reportedly a great fan of both it and Zimbalist, was then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who among other things was a virulent racist who tried to use the power of the federal government to destroy Martin Luther King Jr. and anybody else he didn’t like. But I digress…

“If you think raiding a former President and potential presidential candidate on the pretense of retrieving archives is just another day at the office, I disagree,” Amodei continued.

As it happens, it is only Republicans like Amodei who contend the FBI served its search warrant at House o’ Trump on a “pretense.”

Pretense? Project much, Mark?

But Amodei’s most trenchant phrase, albeit inadvertently, is “a former President,” which indicates that no matter how singularly divisive and repellent Trump is, he should be revered for being inaugurated as president once even though he lost the election. The phrase “a former president” has been deployed by multiple Republicans, including Laxalt in a fundraising email – again, Republicans are giddy about this – as if “a former president” is a sacred figure beyond reproach, let alone federal investigation..

True, there have only been 44 former presidents in the nation’s history. And also true, Trump is the only one to have the FBI break into his safe (…that we know of; never can tell what Hoover might have got up to).

But that’s far from the only presidential distinction that belongs to Trump and Trump alone. 

At the very first Jan.6 committee hearing, committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson reflected on a letter Abraham Lincoln had written vowing to honor the election results if he lost. Lincoln then sealed up the letter and had his cabinet sign it without seeing it. By doing that, Lincoln literally sealed a pledge to accept the verdict of the people.

By heeding the will of the electorate, Lincoln, Thompson noted, was doing what every president before him had done. And by heeding the electorate’s will, Thompson continued, Lincoln was also doing what “every president who followed him would do. Until Donald Trump.”

Republicans are expressing outrage. Some of them are probably sincere. A lot of them are just delightedly glomming on to what they view as an opportunity to rile up the base.

Precious few if any of them are saying that if Trump didn’t have a documented history not only of lying all the time about everything, and not only of putting his own self interest above everyone else’s, including the people of the United States, but of tearing up, carting off and otherwise mishandling official documents that don’t belong to him, he probably wouldn’t be in this situation.

To reiterate, as yet we don’t know exactly what the feds are looking for. Everyone wants Garland’s DOJ to provide more information sooner rather than later. Trump himself could release the details of the search warrant he was served, but Republicans are too busy calling for Garland’s head to ask Trump to accompany his bluster with some actual information.

What we do however know is that Trump is a uniquely untrustworthy person, and a uniquely transactional one. If he carted off documents or materials that would have value to his sweetheart pen pal in North Korea, or Putin, or whoever else harbors a hurt America first policy, then what exactly is the correct response of the United States government? Trump has shown time and again that he has no morals, no conscience, and no boundaries.

Oh, and as for Trump squealing and whining in fundraising pitches and elsewhere that he’s a victim, that’s just a thing that happens on any day that ends in y.

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Three Nigerian Nationals Extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom for Participating in Business Email Compromise Fraud Schemes | OPA

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Three Nigerian citizens were extradited from the United Kingdom (UK) and arrived in the United States in relation to their alleged participation in multimillion-dollar cyber-enabled business email compromise (BEC) fraud schemes in the Western District of North Carolina, Southern District of Texas and Eastern District of Virginia. The scams allegedly perpetrated by the defendants and their co-conspirators targeted unsuspecting victims including universities in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, and attempted to cause more than $5 million in losses.

BEC, also known as “cyber-enabled financial fraud,” is a sophisticated scam often targeting employees with access to company finances, businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments. The same criminal organizations that perpetrate BEC also exploit individual victims, often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others, by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals. This is often accomplished by impersonating a key employee or business partner after obtaining access to that person’s email account or sometimes done through romance and lottery scams. BEC scams may involve fraudulent requests for checks rather than wire transfers; they may target sensitive information such as personally identifiable information (PII) or employee tax records instead of, or in addition to, money; and they may not involve an actual “compromise” of an email account or computer network. Foreign citizens perpetrate many BEC scams. Those individuals are often members of transnational criminal organizations, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world.

Western District of North Carolina

Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo aka John Edwards and John Dayo, 43, a Nigerian citizen and UK resident, and Donald Ikenna Echeazu aka Donald Smith and Donald Dodient, 40, a dual UK and Nigerian citizen, are charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for defrauding a North Carolina university (the University) of more than $1.9 million via a business email compromise scheme. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in the Western District of North Carolina on April 17, 2019, and was unsealed yesterday following Echeazu’s initial appearance in federal court in Charlotte.

According to allegations contained in the indictment, from Aug. 30, 2016, to Jan. 12, 2017, Adeagbo and Echeazu conspired with other individuals to obtain information about significant construction projects occurring throughout the United States, including an ongoing multi-million-dollar project at the victim University. To execute the scheme, the defendants allegedly registered a domain name similar to that of the legitimate construction company in charge of the University’s project and created an email address that closely resembled that of an employee of the construction company. Using the fake email address, the co-conspirators allegedly deceived and directed the University to wire a payment of more than $1.9 million to a bank account controlled by an individual working under the direction of defendants. Upon receiving the payment, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the stolen proceeds through a series of financial transactions designed to conceal the fraud.

The wire fraud conspiracy charge and the money laundering conspiracy charge each carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence consecutive to any other term imposed.

The FBI Charlotte Field Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings of the Western District of North Carolina is prosecuting the case.

Southern District of Texas

Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo aka John Edwards and John Dayo, 43, a Nigerian citizen and UK resident, is also charged in the Southern District of Texas with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud. A federal grand jury returned the indictment March 30, 2022, which was unsealed on Aug. 3, 2022 before he was extradited to the United States. 

From November 2016 until July 2018, Adeagbo allegedly conspired with others to participate in cyber-enabled business email compromises in an attempt to steal more than $3 million from victims in Texas, including local government entities, construction companies and a Houston-area college. The indictment alleges Adeagbo and his co-conspirators registered domain names that looked similar to legitimate companies. They then sent emails from those domains pretending to be employees at those companies, according to the charges. The conspirators allegedly sent emails to clients or customers of the companies they impersonated and deceived those customers into sending wire payments to bank accounts they controlled.

Adeagbo faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted on the charges.

The FBI Houston Cyber Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI Cyber and Criminal Investigative Divisions. The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, Metropolitan Police Service, City of London Police and Crown Prosecution Service also provided substantial assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rodolfo Ramirez for the Southern District of Texas is prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorney Brian Mund of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).

Eastern District of Virginia

Olabanji Egbinola, 42, is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, from Sept. 26, 2018, to Dec. 26, 2018, Egbinola is alleged to have conspired with others to defraud a Virginia-based university. Egbinola and co-conspirators created and used a fraudulent email account that incorporated the name of a construction company that had a large, ongoing contract with the university. Using this email account, Egbinola and co-conspirators deceived the university into transferring $469,819.49 to a bank account controlled by Egbinola and co-conspirators. That money was quickly laundered and transferred overseas through numerous transactions. Evidence obtained during the investigation showed that Egbinola repeatedly accessed the email account used to defraud the Virginia university.

The FBI Richmond Division conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hood of for the Eastern District of Virginia is prosecuting the case.

All three defendants were arrested April 23, 2020, by UK authorities at the request of the United States and ordered extradited on Sept. 3, 2021. All three defendants filed appeals, all of which were rejected by the UK High Court on July 12, 2022.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of all three defendants.

Victims are encouraged to file a complaint online with the IC3 at bec.ic3.gov. The IC3 staff reviews complaints, looking for patterns or other indicators of significant criminal activity, and refers investigative packages of complaints to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in a particular city or region. The FBI provides a variety of resources relating to BEC scams through the IC3, which can be reached at www.ic3.gov. For more information on BEC scams, visit: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/business-email-compromise.

The charges contained in an indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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Military Corruption1 month ago

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