One August day in 1995 a man by the name of Potanga Babany Sissoko came into the office the Islamic Bank of Dubai, to ask to give him credit on the car. The Bank Manager approved the loan. To celebrate, Sissoko invited him to his home for dinner. This is only the prelude to one of the most daring in the world of scams.
For dinner Sissoko made a startling statement. He told the Bank Manager Mohammed Ayub that he has magical abilities: it can take a certain amount of money and double it. Sissoko was invited Mohammed to visit again, but this time with money.
Black magic is condemned by Islam and is considered blasphemy, but many believe in it. Here Ayub believed the mysterious “businessman” from a remote village in Mali. When Mohammed came to visit the Sissoko money, the man ran out to meet him and said that he just got attacked by a Djinn. Sissoko has warned Ayub that he was not angry Genie, otherwise the miracle did not happen. Ayub left the money in the magic room and waited. In his stories, he saw fire, smoke and heard the voices of the spirits, and then silence. The money really has doubled.
“He really believed that Sissoko doubled the money through black magic. So he gave him the money of the Bank in the hope that they will get back the amount twice,” the later said lawyer Alan FEIN, which the Bank was asked to investigate the case of Sissoko.
In the period from 1995 to 1998, Ayub made 183 money transfer to the accounts of Sissoko around the world. Also Sissoko approved credit card. It was about the millions of dollars.
“In 1998 I lived in Dubai and I heard a rumor that the Bank has a problem. Media reported that the Bank has difficulties with the receipt of cash at his door, a crowd of depositors wanting to withdraw their savings. Authorities have downplayed the scale of the problem, calling it “a small difficulty, which has not led to any financial losses, nor the Bank, nor the depositors,” — said Alan fine. For the owners of the Bank that became a huge hit, which is not covered by insurance. The Bank was rescued only through the intervention of the government.”
By this time, sly Sissoko. One of the advantages of his scheme was that he wouldn’t have had to be in Dubai to receive the money.
In November 1995, after just a few weeks after the demonstration of magical abilities in Dubai, Sissoko has already visited new York Bank.
“Once he went to Citibank, met with the cashier, and then married her. It is clear that to solve the issues with the Bank has become much easier. He opened an account, which, as I recall, was translated more than 100 million dollars”, — said fine.
The Islamic Bank filed a lawsuit against Citibank. On account with Citibank without a permit was moved 151 million dollars from the account in an Islamic Bank. Later the claim was withdrawn.
Sissoko paid his wife more than half a million dollars for your help.
“I don’t know how was their relationship, but he called her wife and she thought so too. She knew that there were other wife: someone from Africa, someone from Miami, someone from new York.”
After receiving the money the Bank, Sissoko was able to realize his dream — to become the owner of the airline in West Africa. He bought a used business jet, the Hawker Siddeley 125 and a few old Boeing 727. This was the beginning of the short history of the airline Air Dabia, named in honor of the Malian village where he was born Sissoko.
Everything was going according to plan until 1996 Sissoko didn’t make a mistake. He tried to buy two helicopters Bell UH-1 Iroquois used during the Vietnam war, however, it is unclear why.
“He explained buy the fact that he wanted to use the helicopter as an ambulance. But the helicopters were too large, they are not used for such purposes,” said fine.
Due to the fact that helicopters can be used for military purposes, to buy them you need a special license, which, of course, Sissoko was not. The man wanted to speed up the process by offering a bribe to customs in the amount of $ 30,000. But the money was immediately arrested, and after Interpol issued a warrant for the arrest of Sissoko. He was arrested in Geneva, where he managed to open another Bank account.
Tom Spencer, a lawyer who was hired to protect Sissoko, remembers the first meeting with the defendant.
“I talked to a prison guard who asked me, are you going to translate Sissoko in the United States. I replied that I do not know. Here, the Warder said, “Please leave it here longer.” I asked: “Why?” And he said, “Because every night he brings us from Paris, delicious food.
Sissoko quickly extradited to the USA where he began to mobilize to protect their supporters. The judge was shocked by the willingness of diplomats to vouch for Sissoko. Even Tom Spencer was stunned when a former U.S. Senator birch Bay came to the defense of “black magician”.
“I don’t understand why everyone is so interested in a foreign national, which is of no value to US can not be held? I answer this question do not know, but it’s interesting,” said fine.
The authorities insisted on the arrest of Sissoko, but later released him on bail of 20 million dollars. As soon as he was released from prison, he immediately began to squander money. Only in the jewelry store, he spent half a million dollars, and clothing — 150 thousand.
“During one trip to the dealership he bought two, three, four cars. And then came a week later and bought the same. He’s just throwing money away,” recalls car dealer Ron Dupre. According to his calculations, he sold Sissoko 30-35 cars.
Sissoko became a celebrity in Miami. He already had several wives, but this fact did not prevent him to marry other women. For the ladies he took 23 apartments.
“Playboy is the right definition for him. It is very elegant and beautiful. He has a great sense of style,” he described his cousin Sissoko.
“Black magician” spent money not only on himself, he gave a lot to charity. Ahead there was a trial, and he knew the value of good advertising. Once Sissoko gave 413 thousand school band, so she could go to the parade in honor of thanksgiving in new York. Another lawyer, Professor Smith says that on Thursdays Sissoko drove around the city and gave homeless money. After the departure of Sissoko from U.S. media estimated that he gave away to the homeless about $ 14 million.
“A lot of what he did was to create a positive image that everyone thought that he was powerful and incredibly rich man. He distributed the money and, as far as I know, have always done it publicly,” says Alan fine.
When it came time for court, Sissoko followed the advice of his attorneys and pleaded guilty. Perhaps he thought that this would help to avoid questions about the origin of the wealth. He was sentenced to 43 days in jail and a fine of 250 thousand dollars, which was paid by the Islamic Bank without knowing it. After serving half the term, Sissoko was released from prison in exchange for a donation of one million dollars to the homeless shelter. The remainder of the term he had to serve under house arrest in Mali. At home Sissoko was greeted as a hero.
Around the same time, the auditors of an Islamic Bank began to suspect that something is wrong. Ayub was nervous and Sissoko stopped answering his calls. Finally Ayub confessed to a colleague about the losses of the Bank. It is a shame it was aloud to name the amount, and he wrote on a piece of paper — 890 million dirhams ($242 million). He was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years in prison. It was rumored that he even went through an exorcism. And Sissoko court of Dubai sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for fraud and lessons of black magic. Interpol issued an arrest warrant, but “magician” is still wanted.
For 12 years — from 2002 to 2014, Sissoko was a member of Parliament in Mali, which ensured him immunity from prosecution. Now he is not a Deputy, but he is saved by the fact that the government of Mali has not signed any Treaty for the extradition of criminals. Dubai Islamic Bank is still trying to bring Sissoko to justice.
Correspondent Bi-bi-si Brigitte Schaeffer went to Mali and met with the famous magician-is a fraud. Sissoko denies the allegations of fraud.
“Madame, the story of 242 million dollars is a little crazy. The Bank needs to explain how they lost the money. Judge for yourself, how the money could leave Bank this way? Not one person gives permission for the transfers. When the Bank transfers the funds, is responsible for not one person but several,” said Sissoko.
“I Ayub once spoke when he came for a loan on the car. The loan I was approved and I have paid it”.
Challenging Interpol, Sissoko spent 20 years on the run, but it was definitely bright, even if he spent all that money and not be able to leave Mali.