Nigerian alleged international fraudster, Ramon Abbas popularly known as Hushpuppi, was yesterday, 13 July, denied bail by a court in Illinois, US.
Hushpuppi, a self-styled ‘Billionaire Gucci Master’, who has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram, will possibly remain in detention until his trial over money laundering allegations later this year,, the court insists.
According to Forbes, Hushpuppi will be transported to Los Angeles by the United States Marshals Service, and will not be allowed to stay with his girlfriend’s uncle in Homewood, Illinois. His trial is slated to be held in Los Angeles where the case was filed, rather from Chicago where the investigation is being handled.
It was however gathered that throughout the hearing, Hushpuppi’s lawyer denied that his client was a flight risk or a danger to the community, repeatedly rejecting the allegations made against his client by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s affidavit which was posted earlier this month.
According to the primary allegation levelled by the FBI, Abbas was part of a network that made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from business email compromise frauds and other scams.
But an Assistant United States Attorney Melody Wells, a prosecutor in the Chicago district attorney’s office, convinced the court that Abbas is a flight risk, describing his “significant” financial assets, “deep ties to foreign countries” and a lack of ties to the United States.
Wells argued that Abbas had the “perfect recipe to flee the charges that he faces here.”
The suspect had sought to live with a girlfriend’s relative in Illinois, but this was queried by the prosecutor, arguing that he had up to this point “never visited” the girlfriend or their child in the US.
“There is no evidence that he has ever even met this ‘Uncle’ who would be the third-party custodian under these circumstances,” Wells said.
In it’s ruling, the court said that there was “more than enough justification to order that the US Marshall bring Abbas to California as soon as possible to answer the complaint there.”
Ruling that Abbas had “A great incentive not to continue to respond to these proceedings here,” as he is “facing a long sentence”.
Last week Abbas’ lawyer Gal Pissetzky told Forbes that his client is, “Absolutely not guilty of the charges they are accusing him of,” describing Abbas as “an entrepreneur” who made his money legitimately through “real estate” and his work “promoting brands” as an “Instagram personality.”
During the hearing, Pissetzky told the court that his client posed no flight risk because of the damage it would do to his credibility online, adding that “he is loved and respected. He is a celebrity. He would not want to ruin his credibility and status rather than stay here and face these allegations.”
Adding support to the claim that Abbas pays for his lifestyle through promoting designer products on social media, Pissetzky argued: “Mr Abbas is an Instagram personality, and a social media celebrity. Of course, he poses with high price items because that’s 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 very well-known personality with millions of followers on Instagram. He is an influencer – that is what my kids would call him – an influencer.
“And people seeing him with these Louis Vuitton bags or clothes, or Gucci bags and clothes, or these fancy cars and they go and want it. They wanna buy it. That’s a job today. As much as it’s hard to imagine – that’s a full-time job.”
Pissetzky however made no mention of the claim on the “Hushpuppi” Instagram feed that Abbas works as a “real estate developer.”