Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State, has suspended Abidemi Rufai, his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties.
His suspension follows his arrest in the United States for allegedly participating in a $350,000 unemployment fraud scheme.
A criminal complaint led to the governor’s aide being seized at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to Channels Television.
The aide’s suspension was announced in a statement released on Tuesday by the Governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, who also stated that his involvement in fraud is concerning.
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“The arrest of one of his political appointees, Mr Abidemi Rufai, in New York for alleged unemployment benefits fraud in the United States has been received by the Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun,” he added.
“Given the gravity of these allegations, the Governor has ordered the immediate suspension of the accused appointee.
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“The Governor reiterates his commitment to an open, transparent, accountable, and morally upright administration, and he will not tolerate any behaviour verging on criminality by anyone.”.
How did the FBI manage to apprehend Abidemi Rufai?
According to Acting US Attorney Gorman, Abidemi Rufai was arrested at JFK Airport, New York following a top criminal complaint that linked him with wire fraud of over $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department on Friday evening.
Goman said, after the first fraud report was received in April 2020, they began working with a federal law enforcement team to find how stolen the money set aside for pandemic aid.
Who is Abidemi Rufai?
According to the FBI report, he is a Nigerian citizen known as Sandy Tang.
The government of Ogun state has confirmed that he served as an aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun.
Rufai allegedly used the identities of more than 100 Washington citizens to file false claims with ESD to receive pandemic-related unemployment benefits,
Rufai is also accused of filing bogus unemployment claims in Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to the FBI.
FBI further accuse Rufai of defrauding ESD by using many e-mail addresses in a way that fraud detection systems are unable to detect. Rufai uses this strategy to make it appear as if each claim is coming from a different email address.
FBI also accuse him of sending some of the money to a relative in Jamaica, who lives in New York. Between March and August 2020, law enforcement claims that over $288,000 was deposited into one American bank account under Rufai’s supervision.
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What is the penalty for wire fraud?
When a court finds someone guilty of wire fraud, he faces up to thirty years in a jail term, if the benefits he receives are related to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency, such as the COVID-19 epidemic.
With cooperation from the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has brought the case of the Washington Employment Security Department to light (DOL-OIG).
The Office of Inspector General for Social Security, the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations all assisted with the investigation.
The Employment Security Department of Washington is cooperating with the investigation.