Governor Dapo Abiodun has suspended Abidemi Rufai, his Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, who was arrested in the United States over his alleged involvement in $350,000 unemployment fraud.
The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Rufai at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York last week.
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In a statement, Kunle Somorin, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, said Abiodun would not condone any act of criminality.
“The Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has received the very disturbing news of the arrest of one of his political appointees, Mr Abidemi Rufai, in New York over alleged unemployment benefits fraud in the United States.”
“In view of the gravity of these allegations, the Governor has ordered the immediate suspension of the accused appointee.
“The Governor wishes to restate his commitment to an open, transparent, accountable and morally upright Administration and will not condone any act bordering on criminality by anyone,” the statement read.
Rufai, who was accused of using the alias Sandy Tang, is also suspected of defrauding unemployment programmes in the US cities of Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
According to FBI, investigators found a massive cache of tax returns and other personal data and evidence that Rufai was allegedly involved in numerous other fraud schemes.
Federal officials acknowledged that Rufai’s presence in the United States probably was unusual in the unemployment fraud scheme as many of the fraudulent claims that hit the ESD were likely filed from outside the United States.
The federal complaint also offers a detailed explanation of how Rufai — and presumably others — allegedly bypassed security systems at ESD using a simple feature of Google’s free Gmail service.
Federal investigators initially identified Rufai through a single Gmail account he used to file 102 claims for pandemic-related unemployment benefits from ESD, as well as claims at programs in other states, according to the complaint.
He was subsequently charged with defrauding Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000.