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Hushpuppi sentenced to 11 years in US federal prison; local investigation into “citizenship by marriage scheme” continues


By Devonne Cornelius

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Ramon “Hushpuppi” Abbas has been sentenced to 135 months imprisonment in a federal prison in the United States of America for his role in an international fraud ring.  

A statement from the Department of Justice in the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that “$50,000 of proceeds from the scheme [in which Hushpuppi duped the victim businessperson into paying approximately $330,000] were used to fraudulently acquire a St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis citizenship and a passport for Abbas through a sham marriage to a St. Kitts citizen.”

On Tuesday, November 08, 2022, the Attorney General’s Office in St. Kitts and Nevis provided an update on the investigation that has been ongoing for several months. 

The Attorney General’s Office said,  “In July 2021, law enforcement authorities in the United States contacted the Royal Saint Christopher and Nevis Police Force (“RSCNPF”) to provide information about Hushpuppi’s alleged criminal activities in St Kitts. The RSCNPF launched a formal investigation.

The RSCNPF, in September 2021, prepared a draft Request for Assistance from the United States in the investigation of Hushpuppi pursuant to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT Request”). This MLAT Request sought to obtain formal evidence from the United States to assist the local RSCNPF investigation, which has implicated persons residing in the United States and persons residing in St Kitts. The then Director of Public Prosecutions swiftly provided his input and the MLAT Request was then forwarded to the Attorney-General’s Office, which is the competent state entity responsible for sending MLAT Requests to foreign states/countries.”

Mr. Abbas was accused of bribing a St. Kitts and Nevis government official to assist him in obtaining a false marriage certificate to make him eligible for a passport. Former Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr Hon. Timothy Harris said ‘Hushpuppi’ married Shawana Nakesia Chapman, a 32-year-old Kittitian-born citizen of the United States of America.

“Ms Chapman, a resident of North Carolina, USA, married Mr Abbas in Nigeria in October 2018, thereby conferring him with the right to St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship,” the former Prime Minister said.

The UK Guardian newspaper reported that “the United States 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 US$1.1 million.

The Department of Justice said Huspuppi used proceeds from the fraud to acquire citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Attorney General’s Office in St. Kitts and Nevis further stated that “the draft MLAT Request dated September 15, 2021, thereafter remained unapproved by the then Attorney-General. On October 21, 2022, after an inquiry into the status of the investigation by the current Attorney-General, he was provided with a copy of the drafted MLAT Request and has been in direct communication with the RSCNPF to finalize it for forwarding to the United States.”

The AG’s office reported that the investigation continues, but the delayed MLAT request has slowed its progress.  

The AG’s office further revealed that “on August 5, 2021, in the National Assembly, the former Prime Minister stated that “[t]he matter of the revocation of Mr Abbas’ citizenship has been put before our Attorney General for advice and guidance.” However, the Attorney-General’s Office has been unable to locate any such file.”

The Attorney-General’s Office is actively taking steps to arrange for the swift transmission of the MLAT Request to ensure that the local RSCPF investigation can be concluded and, if necessary, in the views of the RSCPF and Director of Public Prosecutions, persons involved in this alleged “sham” citizenship by marriage scheme can be charged and brought to justice in St Kitts & Nevis. 


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