by Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The ‘Hushpuppi’ scandal continues to be a hot topic on the minds of many people in St. Kitts and Nevis with a former government minister and veteran lawyer Dwyer Astaphan weighing in on the matter which has attracted regional and international audiences.
Astaphan claimed that on October 16, 2019, ‘Hushpuppi’ was “provided with particulars of a young lady and her father to be entered into the fake marriage certificate, and she advised him to backdate it to October 2018.”. Astaphan said, “two days later, Hushpuppi sent a photo of the fake marriage certificate. On November 5, 2019, she told Hushpuppi the name of the person to whom he should mail his request to for citizenship.”
Astaphan in his recent commentary further reported that on November 13, 2019, “she told Hushpuppi how he could get his application expedited and told him to call a certain person by WhatsApp. In December 2019, she and Hushpuppi were discussing the process of obtaining citizenship and negotiations were underway, and she told him all the costs.”
The United States (US) Department of Justice in a statement said Hushpuppi and other conspirators defrauded a Qatari businessperson by claiming to be consultants and bankers who could facilitate a loan to finance the construction of a school for $1.1 million.
The US Department of Justice said “Huspuppi used proceeds from the fraud to acquire citizenship in St. Christopher and Nevis”, which according to Astaphan was allegedly submitted in late December 2019 and was approved less than three weeks after on January 17, 2020.
In the eleven-minute commentary, Astaphan asked “how did he get through so quickly and why?”
“How could a person like Hushpuppi succeed in getting citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis. With the greatest of respect, Nigeria is a great country but is also known for great fraud.”
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis announced in a statement last year July 2020 that Nigerian alleged fraudster did not obtain his citizenship through investment program but by virtue of marriage to a Shawana Nakesia Chapman.
“The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has become aware of reports and rumors concerning the Federation’s citizenship of a Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, allegedly a person of interest to the United States FBI”
“We note that the Nigeria-born Mr. Abbas, 37, was granted a St. Kitts and Nevis passport in February 2020 by virtue of his marriage to Shawana Nakesia Chapman, 32, a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis by birth and the United States of America,” they announced.
According to the indictment document, Hushpuppi used approximately $230,000 of the stolen funds to purchase a Richard Mille RM11-03 watch, which was hand-delivered to him in Dubai and subsequently appeared in his social media posts.
Other illicit proceeds from the scheme were allegedly converted into cashier’s checks, including $50,000 in checks that were used by Abbas and a co-conspirator to obtain a passport by creating a false marriage certificate and reportedly bribing a government official.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Mark Brantley, rejected allegations that claim that a government official was bribed to provide Nigerian Ramon Olorunwa Abbas known as ‘Hushpuppi’ with a passport through the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme.
“I want to make it very clear that, based on the little I have seen in the public domain, there is absolutely no allegations being made against any service provider or government official in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Brantley at his Thursday (July 29, 2021) press conference.