Sandton nightclub owner jailed for defrauding property traders
Sandton nightclub owner and convicted scammer Abdul Olatunji was sentenced to eight years in prison by the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court on the same day he was charged with another fraud case.
Olatunji’s nightclub, Hydro Lounge, was a well-known hangout spot for alleged members of the Nigerian Black Axe organised crime group and featured musicians such as Davido (David Adeleke) and Opa6ix (Opaogun Oluwasegun Akinola), who is wanted for fraud by Nigerian authorities.
Olatunji was arrested in 2019 while driving his R2.7m Bentley Cabriolet with the registration number HYDRO X GP.
He scammed SA businesses out of millions of rand which he used to purchase luxury vehicles including a Mercedes-Benz and a Porsche.
According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane, Olatunji and Adedayo Quandri were sentenced to eight and seven years' imprisonment respectively by the court, sitting in Palm Ridge.
“Both men pleaded guilty and were convicted on 24 counts of theft, related to cloning the email addresses of conveyancers DM5 and Yaron Waks,” said Mjonondwane.
“The law firms handled property sales and registrations on behalf of its clients, Amogelang Holdings and Lesley Warther respectively.
“The accused used spyware and viruses to monitor emails between the law firms and their clients (property traders) that were about to do/receive transfers from the conveyancers after their properties were sold.
“They would then send their banking details to the conveyancers, as though these emails were from the property traders, resulting in R7.8m and R4.2m being diverted to their accounts.”
She said on May 14 2019, DM 5 received an email purporting to be from Amohelang Holdings instructing the company to transfer the proceeds of the sale of property worth R7.8m which was due to Amohelang into a bank account belonging to Siphosihle Sithole.
Sithole was charged with both accused but his trial was separated from theirs after he pleaded not guilty.
According to Mjonondwane, senior state advocate Frans Mhlongo argued that the victims were “rendered financially hard-pressed” and the scam was targeted at conveyancing law firms that handle large volumes of financial transactions.
“Our courts must protect members of our business community from this type of offence and failure to do so might lead to business entities disinvesting and leaving the country and a large section of our society destitute,” said Mhlongo.
Mjonondwane said Amohelang Holdings threatened liquidation proceedings against DM5 for the recovery of its proceeds of sale.
“The NPA commends investigating officer Oscar Mopedi and Adv Frans Mhlongo for remaining committed to the course of justice,” she said.
According to TimesLIVE sources close to the investigation, Olatunji was in cellphone communication with suspected scamming kingpin James Aliyu.
Aliyu was arrested in his luxury Sandton home last week by Interpol and he faces extradition to the US for scamming victims out of US$12m.
According to one source, Olatunji and Aliyu exchanged account details and the details of scamming victims with one another and that they would talk about techniques and methods of scamming their victims leading up to Olatunji’s arrest.
Olatunji’s nightclub was particularly popular among Black Axe members with law enforcement sources close to investigations against the Black Axe claiming that “Hydro Dollars” — a fake-currency modelled after the US dollar and used for aesthetic purposes and “money showers” featured in music videos and promotional videos — regularly being found in the homes of lower ranking alleged Black Axe members in Johannesburg during raids.
In TimesLIVE Investigations reported in January how Hydro Dollars featured in murder accused Nigerian rapper and self-avowed Black Axe member Nicholas Ogbeifun’s music videos.
Ogbeifun was arrested on January 10 with John Ohami and Jeda Quadri following a broad daylight execution of a Nigerian man in Kempton Park and a resulting high-speed chase and deadly shoot-out with police on the R24 near the Gillooly’s interchange.
Olatunji’s troubles are just starting, however, as police charged him for fraud in relation to millions of rand stolen from another victim after court proceedings on Friday.
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