The Nigerian police on Monday said its work in arresting two Nigerians allegedly involved in attempting to defraud a German company will help to improve its relationship with Europe’s richest country.
The police on Sunday announced the arrest of Babatunde Adesanya and Akinpelu Hassan Abass who are said to be members of a sophisticated transnational criminal network.
The men were allegedly part of a COVID-19 procurement operation that tried to defraud the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia of about €14.7 million.
“This will actually help in strengthening our relationship with Germany,” police spokesman, Frank Mba said during his appearance on a Channels Television’s COVID-19 special programme. “Rather than having a negative impact, it will have a very positive impact.
“The German people, the German government and the German business community must have been encouraged by the timeliness of our action, the fact that detectives from Nigeria and Interpol’s National Central Bureau (NCB) based here in Abuja, have got the capacity to actually wade into this kind of case and uncover the crime and try to bring the criminals to book.
“It shows that even if Germans are making investments in Nigeria, they can be assured that their investments are protected and we’ve got the capacity to tackle any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.”
Mba noted that other nationals also took part in the operation.
“There are criminals all over the world,” he said. “Remember that even in this case, there are also accomplices who are not Nigerians, who are Dutch citizens, working with their Nigerian counterparts.”
How The Fraudsters Were Caught
Mba on Monday tried to explain how the criminals almost succeeded in completing the fraud, after already receiving a 1.5 million euros advanced payment and another 880,000 euro payments for the bogus COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“It has been a long-stretched investigation,” Mba said. “If you look at the complexity of the case, you will understand very clearly that the investigators, particularly the detectives from the Cyber-crime unit of the Nigerian Police Force that is currently being warehoused within the Interpol NCB in Abuja had had to work day and night and spanning over several weeks, before they could actually crack down on those suspects.
“This should not be coming as a surprise to Nigerians. At the peak of the lock-down, we did issue a press release where we actually warned about the likelihood of crimes of this nature occurring, not just within Nigeria but also in other parts of the world. We made it very clear that scammers within Nigeria and other parts of the world are beginning to find ways, creative ways for that matter, to take advantage of the fears, the needs generated by the pandemic.
“That is also not surprising, because everywhere in the world, criminals always take advantage of situations, they will take advantage of wars, pandemics, natural disasters, even big time celebrations like the Olympics and World Cup and find very creative ways to actually fleece innocent citizens of their hard-earned income; and that’s exactly what happened here.
“These Nigerian fraudsters, working with their cohorts in Netherlands, presented themselves to a German representative of one of the government agencies as representatives of a company that is based in Holland. That company, ILBN Holdings BV, is prominent and has a very good track-record of producing high-quality PPEs.
“And without the regional company knowing what’s going on, they creatively, cleverly and criminally cloned their website and initiated transactions with a German which eventually culminated in the sealing of this illicit deal valued at about 14.7 million euros.”