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Nigerian influencer “hushpuppi” denied bail amid money laundering allegations

By Elizabeth Hearst

The Nigerian influencer known as “hushpuppi” and “The Billionaire Gucci Master” at the centre of money laundering allegations has been denied bail and told by a judge that he will remain in detention until his trial date next year. 

Ramon Abbas appeared at a detention hearing on 13th July in Chicago where a judge in the Northern District of Illinois ruled that Abbas be transferred by US court marshall to Los Angeles where his trial will take place. 

As reported by Forbes legal counsel for Mr Abbas denied that his client was a flight or security risk and rejected allegations by the FBI that Mr Abbas was part of a network that profited hundreds of millions of dollars in business email compromise fraud regime. 

Assistant US attorney Melody Wells described Mr Abbas as having the “perfect recipe to flee the charges that he faces here”, due to his “deep ties with foreign countries” and “significant financial assets”. 

Mr Abbas had requested approval to reside with his girlfriend’s uncle in Illinois, but this request was rejected. Prosecutor Wells argued that Mr Abbas had “never visited” his girlfriend or child in the United States, and there was no “evidence that he had ever met this uncle” who would be acting as a third party custodian. 

The court ruled that Mr Abbas be transported by US court marshall to California “as soon as possible”, to answer the complaint. The court also acknowledged that Mr Abbas held passports from other countries (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and had access to substantial amounts of cash. 

The 37-year-old Instagram influencer built a global following by posting photographs of lavish cars, private jets and designer goods and currently boasts over 2.5 Million followers on the social media platform. Mr Abbas was arrested in Dubai in June and arrived in the United States in July amid allegations that he had made millions of dollars through elaborate email scams. 

As reported by Forbes, Mr Abbas’ lawyer Gal Pissetzky said that his client was “absolutely not guilty of the charges that he is accused of”, and said Mr Abbas was an “entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through real estate and promoting brands on social media. 

“Mr Abbas is an Instagram personality. He poses with high-price items because that is what he gets paid to do. That’s what he has built from growing up very poor in Nigeria, he was able to develop himself into this well known personality with millions of followers on Instagram,” added Mr Abbas. 

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