Breaking Fraud Cases from Canadian Courts
At Canadian Fraud News, we report on decisions issued by Canadian Courts related to fraud, that are not reported in the main stream media, and that contain legal issues the Canadian public and fraud recovery experts should be aware of. The following is one such story.
On July 4, 2017, the Ontario Superior Court released its decision in the bail hearing of Nigerian Ikechukwu Amadi. This decision addressed the issue of when serial fraudsters may be released on bail by Canadian Courts. The decision was not released by Canadian legal publishers to September 3, 2017 – almost two full months after Amadi was released.
The Fraud and Money Laundering Charges
On October 7, 2015, the Toronto police executed search warrants on his home and seized a number of electronic devices. Information obtained from those devices led to Mr. Amadi’s arrest on October 7, 2015 for laundering proceeds of crime.
On October 20, 2015, Mr. Amadi was released on bail related to the money laundering charges. His sureties were his wife, Chanda Lockhart-Amadi, and his friends, Imohini Ahonkhai and Shaheen Hemraj.
On October 22, 2015, the Toronto Star published an article entitled Toronto Police Link Romance Scam to $5M Money Laundering Scheme in US. The article contains a video of the Toronto Police press conference – see: The Star.
The video of the Press Conference provides information on the Nigerian Black Axe and Nigerian organized crime, as well as the nature of romance scams.
On November 25, 2016, Mr. Amadi made a variation application to, among other things, allow him to travel to Nigeria. The variation hearing was to be heard on December 14, 2016. However, on December 8, 2016, Mr. Amadi was arrested in Toronto pursuant to a U.S. extradition warrant.
Mr. Amadi, while a Canadian citizen, grew up in Nigeria and has strong ties to Nigeria. It hardly seems a coincidence that Mr. Amadi was attempting to travel to Nigeria at this time.
The U.S. charges involve a multi-million dollar fraud scheme involving amounts somewhere in the range from 8.8 to 15 million dollars. Mr. Amadi is charged along with a number of associates with conspiracy to commit international wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to launder money.
The associates include Lineo Molefe, 31, of Toronto, and Akohomen Ighedoise, 41. Toronto police would like to speak to anyone who has interacted with a person or online profile named Martin Acker or Martin Acker Jr., an alias they say was used by Ighedoise.
The fraud involved setting up bank accounts for fraudulent funds and forging financial instruments, identification documents, passports and travel documents. Mr. Amadi is alleged to have used numerous aliases, phone numbers and email accounts.
Bail Attempt No. 1 – Denied
Mr. Amadi’s first bail application on the extradition warrant was heard by Morgan, J. of this Court on December 15, 2016. By decision released on December 20, 2016, Morgan, J. denied release.
Mr. Amadi had two sureties on the application before Morgan, J., his wife Chanda Lockhart-Amadi and his friend Imohimi Ahonkhai. The plan of supervision involved Mr. Amadi residing with his wife, a curfew and a total pledge of $45,000 by his sureties.
Ms. Lockhart-Amadi and Shaheena Hemraj offered to increase the total pledge to about $220,000. However, it was not clear to Morgan, J. where these funds were going to come from.
In denying bail, Morgan, J. was concerned about Mr. Amadi’s weak roots in the community, as well as his insufficiently restrictive plan of supervision, the insufficiency of financial terms, the lack of documentary support for the proposed pledges and the seriousness of the U.S. charges.
Morgan, J. found the international nature of the crimes, as well as the identity theft and passport forgery charges pointed to a substantial risk on the primary grounds.
Bail Attempt No. 2 – Denied
Mr. Amadi’s second application was heard by Clark, J. of this Court on January 11, 2017, and, by decision dated January 13, 2017, release was denied.
In the hearing before Clark, J., Mr. Amadi proposed the following as material changes in circumstances:
- an increase to five sureties;
- more substantial financial documentation;
- a proposed change in the residential surety to an additional person,
- his cousin Daniel Ahana, who is retired and will supervise Mr. Amadi on conditions amounting to house arrest;
- the other additional surety, David Shellnut, a long-time friend and a lawyer called to the bar in 2013, practicing with a prominent Toronto law firm; who pledged $25,000 of the equity in his condo, a loss of which he stated would exact a financial toll on him in view of his sizeable law school debt;
- from the proceeds of sale of their home, Mr. Amadi and his wife paid a security deposit of $22,800 to secure a two-year lease on their rental apartment; the five sureties together were willing to pledge about $330,000; and
- a proposal of full-time electronic monitoring.
Clark, J. was concerned that Mr. Amadi lacked sufficient roots in the community, that is, a sufficiently permanent connection to Canada particularly in view of the sale of his home. Clark, J.’s view was that the amount of the investment in the lease is paltry when set against the seriousness of the crimes and the length of time he stands to serve if convicted in the U.S. He was also concerned that the sale of the house suggests that he divested himself of property as part of a plan to flee the jurisdiction. There is evidence that Mr. Amadi knew of the U.S. charges pending against him when he did this.
Clark, J. also pointed out that the proposal for an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet was insufficient as the application lacked evidential support for the implementation and enforcement of this monitoring method. Clark, J.’s view was that even were there sufficient evidentiary support for this method, electronic monitoring has only at best a deterrent effect. It would not prevent flight. For those reasons, Clark, J. found the proposal for ankle bracelet monitoring does not represent a material change in circumstances in the context of the flight risk in this case.
Bail Attempt No. 3: Granted
Mr. Amadi’s third application was heard on June 29, 2017 by Allen, J. In the hearing before Allen J., Mr. Amadi proposed the following as material changes in circumstances: a sizeable increase in the amount of surety pledges – the five sureties offered pledges in the total amount of $529,500; and additional information related to an electronic ankle bracelet – Mr. Amadi provided an undertaking, by way of an affidavit from the proprietor of a company that offers this service, to supply the bracelet and provide monitoring services; materials describing the nature of the service were also filed.
Based on the change of circumstances, Allen J. granted interim release to Mr. Amati on the following terms:
- Mr. Amadi’s sureties shall be his wife, Chanda Lockhart-Amadi, Shaheena Hemraj, Imohimi Ahonkhai, Daniel Ahana and David Shellnut.
- The sureties shall provide security for their pledge in the following amounts:
(i) Chanda Lockhart-Amadi – $101,500
(ii) Shaheena Hemraj – $134,00
(iii) Imohimi Ahonkhai – $20,000
(iv) Daniel Ahana – $199,000
(v) David Shellnut – $75,000
- Mr. Amadi shall reside with his wife in the family home at 94-5260 McFarren Boulevard, Mississauga, Ontario. He shall notify the Toronto Police Fugitive Squad at least seven days prior to any change of residential address;
- Mr. Amadi shall not leave his residential address except when accompanied by one of his sureties and except in medical emergencies involving himself or his children;
- Mr. Amadi shall remain within the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, Ontario;
- Chanda Lockhart-Amadi shall supervise Mr. Amadi in the residence at times when she is not at work. She will obtain the support of Shaheena Hemraj, Imohimi Ahokhai, or Daniel Ahana when available to assist with supervision. One of Mr. Amadi’s sureties shall be in contact with Mr. Amadi on a daily basis during the time Ms. Lockhart-Amadi is outside the home;
- Mr. Amadi shall allow the installation of an ankle monitor and sign any required agreements with Discovery Science Corporation and abide by any contractual terms. The bracelet shall be installed at the Detention Centre facility before his release;
- Mr. Amadi shall not possess or apply for any passports or travel documents;
- Mr. Amadi shall report forthwith upon release to the Toronto Police Fugitive Squad at 2440 Lawrence Avenue East, Toronto and thereafter on every Monday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.;
- Mr. Amadi shall not have access to the internet or any computer, phone, tablet or mobile device. The internet may only be accessed on a television for the purpose of entertainment;
- Mr. Amadi shall abstain from communication with his co-accused, Akohomen Ighedoise, and all co-conspirators listed in the Record of the Case; and
- Mr. Amadi shall have his extradition hearing within six months of the date of his release.
Anyone with information of Mr. Amati being in breach of his bail conditions should contact Toronto Police.
Mr. Amadi faces a possible 15 to 20-year sentence in the U.S. if found guilty.