Two Lebanese who attempted to smuggle $890,000 out of Nigeria jailed for money laundering

Two Lebanese nationals who were found with the sum of $890,000 which they wanted to smuggle out of Nigeria through the Port Harcourt International Airport, Rivers State, were on Thursday jailed two years each for money laundering.

The two men, Chamseddine Waell Mohammed and Dina Jihad Khali, were sentenced by Justice M.I. Sani of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt after they pleaded guilty of the money laundering charges brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to the anti-graft commission, the offences committed by them ran contrary to Section 2 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 2 (5) of the same Act.

The EFCC in a statement on Thursday said one of the charges against them is:
“That you Chamseddine Waell Mohammed on the 1st August, 2020 at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Port Harcourt, within the jurisdiction of this court did fail to make a declaration of the sum of $220,000.

“The money was hidden in your luggage on board a chartered flight with registration number 9HVFF to Lebanon and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 2 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under section 2 (5) of the same Act.”

The charge against the second convict read: “That you Dina Jihad Khali on the 1st August, 2020 at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Port Harcourt within the jurisdiction of this court did fail to make a declaration to the Nigeria Custom Service as required by law cash transportation of the sum of $670,000.

“The money was hidden in your Luggage on board a chartered flight with registration number 9HVFF to Lebanon and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 2 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 (as Amended) and punishable under Section 2 (5) of the same Act.”

According to the statement, while reviewing facts of the case, prosecuting counsel, Aso Larrys Peters tendered some documents, which included Letter of Invitation from Customs and statements of the defendants, as exhibits.

“Principal Detective Superintendent Macaulay Olayinka while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel, told the court that the two convicts were arrested for attempting to smuggle a total sum of $890,000 out of Nigeria, through the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

He further disclosed that the money recovered from the suspects had been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Rivers State Branch, for safe keeping by the arresting agency.

In view of the reviewed facts, the prosecution prayed the court to convict and sentence the defendants as charged.

Justice Sani consequently convicted and sentenced the defendants to two years imprisonment. The undeclared amount was ordered forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

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