Nigerian Arrested Over Alleged Money Laundering

Interior Ministry police arrested a 33-year-old Nigerian man in Phnom Penh on Friday on suspicion of having transferred more than $30,000 in laundered money to a bank in Cam­bo­dia, according to officials.

Bamidele Muyideen Akinola is believed to have transferred $34,990 from JP Morgan Chase bank in the US to ANZ Royal bank in Cambodia on May 6, according to a May 20 letter signed by National Bank of Cambodia Deputy Director-General Phan Ho and addressed to the Ministry of Interior.

On May 7, NBC received documents from JP Morgan qualifying the transfer as “fraudulent” and subsequently froze the suspect’s account, according to the letter.

Akinola was apprehended about 12:15 pm Friday at the Christian International School where he taught in Toul Kok district, said Deputy National Police Commis­sion­er Sok Phal.

The suspect is believed to “have illegally transferred money to a local bank,” Sok Phal said, adding that the suspect was taken to Phnom Penh Mun­icipal Court for questioning Sun­day morning.

Sok Phal said he had no further details.

Sok Kalyan, deputy municipal prosecutor, could not confirm Sun­day whether the suspect had been questioned, but said the court is examining documents related to the case.

Phan Ho, who heads the Finan­cial Intelligence Unit charged with investigating money laundering in Cambodia, said the case is far from unique.

“This kind of fraudulent transfer of funds has happened many times in Cambodia recently,” he said, re­fer­ring questions to ANZ Royal.

ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Hig­gins could not be reached for comment Sunday.

An official from the Interior Mini­stry’s internal security department who asked not to be named said Akinola had gone to ANZ Royal twice before his arrest trying to withdraw money. Both times he was turned away by ANZ Royal staff who told him that the paperwork on his transfer was still being reviewed.

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