Senegalese-American singer Akon has denied claims in a suit by a former business partner that the futuristic city he is building in his country Senegal could be a Ponzi scheme, Vibe reports.
A legal document by Devyne Stephens, who has worked with Akon and other celebrities like Jay-Z and Destiny’s Child, asked the Manhattan Supreme Court judge last week to freeze the singer’s assets in New York until a judgment is reached in the $4 million lawsuit Stephens filed against Akon in 2021. Akon allegedly still owes Stephens this amount from a prior legal settlement, according to a report by Page Six.
Stephens argues that the court must freeze the musician’s assets to enable him to get his money if the judgment goes in his favor. Citing the findings of retired federal Special Agent Scot Thomasson, Stephen’s lawyer Jeffrey Movit alleges that Akon is behind some shady deals, including his $6 billion Wakanda-inspired city in Senegal scheduled to run on his “Akoin” cryptocurrency.
Akon City and Akoin show “many of the trademark characteristics (known as ‘red flags’) of fraudulent business ventures such as Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes. Therefore, it is likely that Akon City and Akoin are part of a fraudulent money-raising scheme,” Thomasson claims in his affidavit.
Meanwhile, a representative of the “Lonely” singer has denied Stephens’ accusations of Akon City likely being a scam.
“Mr. Stephens’ allegations about Akon City and Akon’s business ventures are not based on any evidence”, the rep said in a statement to Page Six. “They are nothing but innuendo and speculation, made by someone who had a claim against Akon dismissed.”
“Akon is proud of the efforts he is undertaking to create opportunities for his homeland in Senegal,” the statement added.
Born Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, the musician had earlier shared his plans of building the city in 2018, describing it as “a real-life Wakanda” in reference to the Afro-futuristic city in Marvel’s movie, Black Panther. He also said the city will similarly use the AKoin cryptocurrency.
The site for the Senegal project is in the village of Mbodiene. In 2020, the “Locked Up” singer said he had been able to acquire one-third of the $6 billion needed for it.
Akon also said he hoped the project would create jobs for locals in the West African nation as well as serve as a “home back home” for Black Americans and other people in the diaspora who are being racially discriminated against.
“The system back home treats them unfairly in so many different ways that you can never imagine. And they only go through it because they feel that there is no other way,” he told the Associated Press. “So if you’re coming from America or Europe or elsewhere in the diaspora and you feel that you want to visit Africa, we want Senegal to be your first stop.”