February 20, 2009 / 10:55 PM / 11 years ago

Nigerian charged in scheme to steal from Citi -US

NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - A Nigerian citizen was indicted on charges of scheming to steal about $27.2 million from a National Bank of Ethiopia account at Citibank N.A., a unit of Citigroup (C.N), U.S. officials said on Friday.

The accused man, Paul Gabriel Amos, was arrested in Los Angeles in January and pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Friday to a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud.

From September through November of last year, Amos and unidentified co-conspirators sent fake signed documents to Citibank appearing to match signatures of officials at National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the country’s central bank, U.S. prosecutors and the FBI said in a statement.

Authorities accused Amos and the others of providing callback telephone numbers for the Ethiopian officials that in fact were mobile phone numbers used by the conspirators in Nigeria, South Africa and Britain.

The statement said the indictment accused Amos of a scheme to “gain access to or take over” the NBE account at Citibank in New York. Amos, 37, is a citizen of Nigeria who lived in Singapore until his arrest in Los Angeles on Jan. 15, officials said.

U.S. prosecutors said that between Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 last year, Amos and co-conspirators caused Citibank to make a total of about 24 wire transfers amounting to almost $27.2 million to various accounts they controlled in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, China, Cyprus and the United States.

Citi said in a statement that it had “worked closely with law enforcement throughout the investigation and are pleased it has resulted in this arrest.” (Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Gary Hill)

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