Olalekan Jacob Ponle, alias Woodberry, a close associate of the notorious Nigerian fraudster Ramon Abbas, better known as Hushpuppi, has pleaded guilty to internet fraud charges in the United States.
Ponle, who had previously maintained his innocence, has now accepted responsibility for the first count of an eight-count indictment related to business email compromise (BEC) scams.
As part of his plea agreement, Ponle has agreed to pay $8 million in restitution to the seven companies that fell victim to his scam. He has also forfeited a number of luxury assets, including high-end cars and watches, to the US government.
Ponle was asked to waive his rights to a Rolls Royce Cullinan, a Lamborghini Urus, and a Mercedes-Benz G-class, as well as several Rolex and Audemars Piguet watches, gold and diamond-studded earrings, and gold neck chains.
The plea declaration was submitted to the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on April 6, and the court documents state that Ponle has agreed to surrender all right, title, and interest to any property he obtained as a result of the fraud.
Ponle was arrested in Dubai in June 2020, alongside Hushpuppi, and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. Hushpuppi is currently serving an 11-year sentence in the United States for his role in the fraud scheme.
Last year, Ponle forfeited 151.8 Bitcoin, worth around $6 million at the time, to the US government. His guilty plea and the additional restitution payment represent a further step towards justice for his victims.
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