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Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

Virginia Giuffre

Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

Prince Andrew’s attacks on Virginia Giuffre ’s character in an attempt to get her sexual assault lawsuit against him thrown out may fail and risk doing further damage to his reputation, British lawyers have said.

Having initially attempted to prevent service of the suit, which alleges that he sexually abused Giuffre when she was 17, the prince’s lawyers went on the offensive over the weekend in an attempt to get her “baseless” claim dismissed.

Their filings accuse Giuffre of seeking a “payday” at Andrew’s expense and contain references from friends and in newspaper articles to her being a “money hungry sex kitten” and recruiting girls for the convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died in custody in 2019, awaiting trial.

At the same time they argue that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein, formerly a friend of Andrew, absolves the prince from responsibility, a notion rejected by Giuffre’s lawyer.

Mark Stephens, a partner at Howard Kennedy and UK media law expert, said it would take a brave judge to dismiss the case and suggested Prince Andrew had potentially opened himself up to further embarrassment.

“He’s obviously got fed up with the criticism that he’s taken so he has instructed lawyers to engage,” said Stephens. “The problem of course, is that he’s now embarked on a route towards a case. He’s saying it should be struck out because she’s unreliable but also that he’s covered by the plea deal from Epstein in any event, which seemed to be sort of contradictory.

“The problem you’ve got is he clearly as a human being wants to explain himself, he wants to make clear that he’s not responsible but his only way of doing that is in the court hearing. And if he does that, he has to get into what he actually did with her, how did the photograph [with Giuffre] come to be taken etc [allies of Andrew have claimed the photo was faked and he says he has “no recollection” of meeting her] and she will undoubtedly give graphic and detailed evidence about what she says were their liaisons”.

Andrew, 61, has “absolutely and categorically” denied having sex with Giuffre but the allegations have already done huge damage to his reputation. The Queen’s second son stepped back from royal duties in 2019 in the aftermath of a disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was perceived as unsympathetic towards Epstein’s victims.

His lawyers’ latest strategy risks exacerbating that perception, according to a senior partner at a leading London law firm, who described the allegations in the filings as a “smokescreen”.

The solicitor, who did not want to be named, said: “This looks like putting up a smokescreen to tarnish her [Giuffre’s] reputation but it has no legal relevance whatsoever. Whether or not she was complicit in assisting Epstein with his child abuse is neither here nor there when you consider the allegations against Prince Andrew, which are that he raped and molested her. However he tarnishes her character, it makes absolutely no difference to that issue.”

He said an English judge would ignore it and while there was more chance of US jurors being swayed by it, there was no guarantee.

“A jury might think, ‘This is an American citizen, and who’s this prince trying to blacken the character of one of our own?’, so it’s a high-risk strategy even with a jury, I would have thought,” he said.

In her lawsuit, Giuffre alleged the prince “stonewalled”, rejecting a request to explore alternative dispute resolution. The attempts to challenge service and jurisdiction further raised uncertainty about his level of engagement with the case but Richard Spafford, partner at Reed Smith, said it was “fairly standard” to try to stop the lawsuit in its tracks and only when those tactics failed, address the actual merits of the case.

“I can only assume that it’s been decided within his advisory team that, notwithstanding the fact that his application will attract publicity, that it’s nonetheless the appropriate step to take,” said Spafford. “On the basis of that there must be a view that these arguments raise the possibility that the case will be dismissed by the judge, or, alternatively, that the plaintiff may be more likely to conclude that it’s appropriate to settle it.”

Thomas Garner, partner at Fladgate, said the attacks on Giuffre showed the gloves were off even if it might do “irreparable” damage to the prince’s reputation. “If there was any doubt as to how he would handle the claim, this application makes it clear that if [the judge] doesn’t dismiss the claim then Prince Andrew intends to go on the attack,” he said.

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EFCC arraigns forex broker for alleged N2b investment scam in Uyo

The Enugu Zonal Directorate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Friday, July 19, 2024 arraigned one Rufus John Isip, a self-acclaimed forex broker before Justice C. S. Onah of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Isip was arraigned alongside his company, ITM-IT Resources Limited on an eight-count charge bordering on fraudulent conversion, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N2, 022, 081, 172 (Two Billion, Twenty-two Million, Eighty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two Naira).

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime in December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of (431, 331, 172. 00) Four Hundred and Thirty-one Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two kobo from one Michael Okon, the Director of N-Rex Resources Limited under the false pretence that it is an investment in Vandera, an online investment platform, on his behalf, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

Count eight of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime between December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, converted the total sum of (N730, 870, 000. 00) Seven Hundred and Thirty Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira to crypto currency (Bitcoin) and transferred same into your Binance Wallet knowing that the said money formed part of your unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 15 (3) (4) of the same Act”.

He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.

In view of his plea, Khamis Mahmud, counsel to the EFCC prayed the court to remand him in EFCC custody on the grounds that “we are still investigating him on other cases”.

The defence counsel, Samson Ewuje however, did not pose any objection.
Justice Onah adjourned the matter to October 14, 2024 for trial and the defendant was remanded at the Uyo Zonal Directorate of the EFCC.

Isip was arrested based on a petition from one Michael George, alleging that he lured him to invest in his online trading platform called Vandora.io. According to the petitioner, the defendant told him that it was more profitable to trade on his platform with a minimum trading capital of $100, 000. 00 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars) and that he would earn more profit if he involved more investors.

The petitioner thereafter invested, reached out to other investors and companies who also invested in the defendant’s phony online trading platform and after 60 days (as agreed) for the investors to start earning their profits, the defendant disappeared into thin air.

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EFCC presents more witness against Fayose in alleged N6.9bn fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday, July 19, 2024, presented its 14th prosecution witness, PW14, Sahibu Salisu, a former Director of Administration and Finance, Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, in the trial of alleged N6.9bn fraud involving a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and his company, Spotless Investment Limited, before Justice Chukujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC had, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, re-arraigned Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering and stealing to the tune of N6.9bn ( Six Billion Nine Hundred Naira).

The defendants had first been arraigned on October 22, 2018 before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

At the resumed sitting on Friday, Salisu told the court how he paid the sum of N200m and another N2billion to a firm, Sylvan MacNamara, for security purposes on the instruction of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the PW14 , who disclosed that he served as the Director of Administration and Finance between 2011 and 2015, explained the process of payment, saying, “ Once the NSA gave approval for payment, we processed it accordingly. The payments we made were mainly for operational activities.”

When asked to state the roles of the NSA Office , he said: “The roles of the NSA Office are purely about the security of the entire country. And any money expended on security was expected to be retired.”

When shown a document tagged Exhibit S, which was the payment voucher raised for the fund, he said: “It is the payment mandate raised by me as the Director of Administration and Finance on the NSA’s instruction. The first figure was N200 million in favour of Sylvan McNamara and it was paid to the company’s Diamond Bank account. It was the NSA who gave me the account details.”

He said though the NSA did not tell him the purpose for which it was meant, the memo raised and the mandate payment showed it was for physical security infrastructure. “All the payments made from the Office of NSA were supposed to be for security activities and security structures,” he said.

When asked who signed the payment mandate, he said: “I will sign my own part as signatory B. “Thereafter, I would take it to the NSA for final signature, which was approval. Then, I would take the mandate to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment.”

Giving further testimony on the exhibit S, he said the former NSA and him appended their signatures on it. According to him, the payment was made and there should be retirement, after the purpose for which money was paid for had been completed. He, however, stated that “ Up till I left the office, I could not say whether or not the money was retired.”

When asked about the exhibit S1, which was payment to Sylvan McNamara to the tune of N2 billion dated June 13, 2014, he said: “We paid the amount of N2 billion to Sylvan McNamara on the instruction of the NSA. I was not a signatory to this account, so I am not in a position to know whether it was retired after payment. The NSA and former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Mahe, would be able to know whether it was retired or not”.

Salisu, under cross-examination by the counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, testified that all payments made by the NSA office were made through the bank and they had to raise the mandate before it was done.

When asked if the former NSA told him that the N200m and N2bn were for security purposes, he said: “No. The NSA never informed me that the money was for security purposes and the NSA never complained about this payment.”

During cross-examination by the counsel to the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, Salisu testified that he was familiar with financial regulations, adding that “In relation to retirement, once money is given to a recipient, you are supposed to bring the receipt of what you have been asked to supply with a memo attached to it. That is the retirement of such a fund-the financial regulations only apply to public servants.”
According to him, the schedules of his duties did not extend to security matters.

When asked if he knew what made the former NSA to first approve the payment of N200million and subsequently N2 billion for Sylvan McNamara, he said: “As I said earlier, all payments in the office of the NSA are for security purposes”. Also, when asked if he made a statement to the EFCC when he was invited during investigation, he said, “Yes”.

Thereafter, Ojo tendered the statement of the witness and was admitted by the court as exhibit A19. The witness also confirmed to the court that no one ever queried the instructions of the NSA.

Counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, made an application before the court, seeking the permission of the court to allow his client travel abroad on health grounds. There was no objection from the prosecution counsel.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke granted Olanipekun’s request to enable his client travel abroad for medical check.

The case was adjourned to October 18, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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NSUK 300-Level student killed in foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga

A 300-level student of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Mustapha Osama, was reportedly killed in a foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The incident occurred on Friday night around 8 PM along the Gudi-Akwanga road, according to sources.

Osama, who has been buried in Doma on Saturday morning according to Islamic rites, was said to have been hit by a bullet fired by the gunmen.

A family source confirmed that the deceased was driving when he was struck by the bullet.

The robbery attempt was thwarted by operatives of the Nigeria Police who responded immediately to a distress call, according to the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ramhan Nansel.

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