New Findings Uncover USD 400 K Theft In Slain Gokada Founder Case

By  |  August 29, 2023

Three years have passed since the shocking and grisly murder of Gokada Founder Fahim Saleh sent shockwaves through the industry. Now, a deeper and more intricate narrative is emerging from the case, revealing an underlying web of embezzlement and a chillingly calculated premeditated murder.

The story begins with a series of emails exchanged between Saleh, 33 at the time, and his 21-year-old former personal assistant, Tyrese Haspil. Saleh had expressed concern about significant amounts of money seemingly disappearing from his accounts.

The emails paint a picture of Saleh’s growing suspicion and unease, as he expressed his disappointment in Haspil for betraying his trust, Insider revealed in the latest piece of coverage around the case that contains previously unreported details.

Saleh, an entrepreneur of Bangladeshi-American descent and a self-taught programmer, achieved substantial wealth in tech, notably leading the popular motorbike-taxi operation-turned-delivery service, Gokada, which he had founded in 2018 and established in Lagos, Nigeria.

Among Saleh’s philanthropic efforts was Adventure Capital, a venture capital fund he established to support aspiring tech entrepreneurs in developing countries.

Fahim Saleh (1986-2020)
The Gokada founder established one of the most popular motorbike-taxi startups in Nigeria

Over the course of more than a year, Haspil, a coding prodigy whom Saleh had taken under his wing and eventually hired as a personal assistant in the middle of 2018, was entrusted with overseeing the intricate finances of Adventure Capital. However, he is accused of systematically embezzling funds from the venture, allegedly diverting over USD 98 K into his own accounts between December 2018 and May 2019; an amount that may be much less than the full loot, new findings suggest.

However, Saleh’s concerns upon confronting his employee in January 2020 culminated in a far more sinister turn of events, set in motion after the now-fired Haspil admitted to the late Saleh that he had been siphoning money and proposed a repayment plan that was witnessed and documented by attorneys.

The tech CEO had elected to not involve the police provided Haspil fulfilled the terms of the 12-month repayment plan. Insider noted that Saleh had trusted the suspect and cultivated a familial relationship, granting Haspil access to bank accounts and letting him house-sit Saleh’s New York home and care for his pet dog during the Founder’s months-long trips to Nigeria.

An unsettling tragedy

According to prosecutors, Haspil’s eventual brutal actions were driven by desperation and the fear that the full scale of his embezzlement scheme, which Saleh had under-diagnosed, would be uncovered, and potentially bring in the police.

On July 14, 2020, Haspil allegedly followed Saleh to his apartment in Manhattan, New York, incapacitated him using a Taser, and then stabbed him to death. The next day, he returned to dismember Saleh’s body in a botched attempt to cover up the crime.

A cousin of the victim is said to have walked into the horror scene while Haspil was away on a store run to buy a charger for the electric saw he had allegedly used for the gruesome decapitation operation after the battery had run out. Hapsil would be apprehended by police a few days later at a pricey Airbnb not far from the scene of the crime. Authorities say they tracked down the suspect by tracking spending transactions allegedly initiated by the alleged assailant on the victim’s credit card in the days following the crime.

Prosecutors have since revealed that the embezzlement was far larger than initially suspected. A staggering USD 400 K was reportedly stolen, a figure four times greater than the amount Saleh had confronted Haspil about. Prosecutors claim that Haspil devised a means to maintain his illicit earnings even after Saleh confronted him about the initial ~USD 98 K that the suspect had diverted into his accounts.

In a separate instance of embezzlement, Haspil allegedly established a PayPal account with the pseudonym “Nethertek Switzerland” in September 2018, shortly after his hiring. This choice of identity was allegedly made to give the appearance of legitimate financial transactions in Saleh’s records, according to prosecutors.

Even while supposedly making restitution to Saleh, prosecutors contend that Haspil continued to pilfer money from him through the concealed PayPal operation. This ongoing embezzlement, as described by prosecutors, can be likened to a situation where one is robbing a victim to pay the same victim. This revelation underscores the extent to which Haspil had allegedly been exploiting Saleh’s trust.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece of evidence is a tiny circular paper disc ejected from the Taser Haspil allegedly used to stun the victim during the murder. Each time a Taser is fired, it releases these ID tags, each printed with a unique identification number. Security footage shows that Haspil attempted to vacuum the evidence from the elevator floor, but one tag remained.

This seemingly insignificant tag has now become a crucial element in the case. The identification number on the tag traces directly back to the Taser that Haspil had ordered for himself and received a month prior to the murder. This evidence potentially links Haspil to premeditation, suggesting that the murder was planned well in advance; this could incur the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 to life, meaning the earliest the alleged perpetrator could see a parole board would be in 20 years.

Despite multiple delays in trial dates and legal proceedings, prosecutors have been meticulously building their case against Haspil. The trial is expected to shed light on the chilling mix of financial greed and calculated violence that unfolded in this high-profile murder case.

As the legal system prepares for the trial, the industry and the public alike are left to grapple with the disturbing details of the crime and the profound betrayal that unfolded between a tech CEO and his personal assistant.

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