Jailed: Lamborghini driver in US$27 million money-laundering scheme
Caught driving dangerously in 2016 video, he was jailed yesterday for dishonestly receiving stolen property
When a video clip of a blue Lamborghini speeding at the East Coast Parkway (ECP) was posted online in 2016, netizens were outraged at the driver's recklessness.
But the traffic offences were only some of the offences Amos Paul Gabriel, 47, had committed.
The Nigerian, who is a Singapore permanent resident and a Singapore-based company director of trading company Pags Resources, admitted his connection in a money laundering case involving the transfer of US$27.2 million (S$37.2 million) from the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) to six countries.
The incident first came to light in 2008 when the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) received information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US and the Australian Federal Police concerning fraudulent instructions sent to Citibank in New York.
Subsequent investigations by the CAD revealed Amos had been involved in receiving stolen cash worth US$1.84 million.
Yesterday, a Singapore district court jailed him 36 months for dishonestly receiving stolen property.
He was also fined $4,200, and disqualified from holding driving licences for a year for his traffic offences.
The court heard that in 2008, between Oct 2 and Oct 16, Citibank N.A transferred a total of US$27.2 million to beneficiaries in the US, Australia, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Korea after receiving 24 payment instructions purportedly sent from the NBE.
Sometime in 2008, Amos was in Singapore when he received a call from his friend Robert Umohette, a Nigerian national, who told him he was involved in projects cheating the Ethiopian government.
He asked Amos to provide a bank account which he could transfer the stolen money to.
As the director of Pags Resources, Amos had a corporate DBS bank account in Singapore.
As Amos did not want to get into trouble with the Singapore authorities, he spoke to another man, Mohammad Sohail, also know as "Malik", and they decided they could use a bank account in Australia to receive the cheated funds.
Amos would also receive a cut of the cheated funds as his commission.
Shortly after, Citibank N.A transferred US$1.84 million to the Australian bank account.
Amos then received a call from Robert telling him to transfer a portion of these funds into a bank account in Singapore belonging to a company called Ideal Con.
In October 2008, Malik, as per Amos's instructions, transferred A$1,007,680 (S$953,564) to Ideal Con's account.
Robert also instructed Amos to transfer a portion of the stolen funds amounting to A$623,467 from the Australian account into a bank account in Hong Kong.
Amos informed Robert that he would collect his commission in Hong Kong in cash because he did not want the stolen funds to be traced to him. He went to Hong Kong to collect his commission of US$300,000.
Amos also instructed his wife to travel to Hong Kong to open a HSBC bank account to deposit his commission into.
Both then returned to Singapore separately.
Later that month, Amos submitted instructions signed by his wife to transfer a portion of the money in her HSBC account to his company's DBS bank account.
She transferred US$290,000 to the DBS account, of which some were used for his personal expenses.
The money transferred to Ideal Con was later seized by the CAD and returned to Citibank in 2010.
A sum of $34,930 was also recovered from Amos during investigations. He has also made restitution of $100,000 (in 2 orders in 2016 and 2017).
The prosecutors asked for Amos to be punished appropriately to protect Singapore's reputation as a clean and trusted financial centre.
District Judge Victor Yeo said a clear signal must be sent to would-be money launderers that such an offence is serious and must be deterred.
He also noted there was an international element to this case, and that Amos's culpability was not low.
Amos was also involved in dangerous driving along the ECP, where he cut into the path of a car sometime in October 2016.
He had squeezed through a narrow gap between a car and a van at high speed, causing alarm to the driver of the car.
He was also driving without a driving licence.