Thu. May 23rd, 2019

Former Super Eagles star Sam Sodje and his brothers accused of helping to launder £80,000 fraud money

Ex-Super Eagles defender, Sam Sodje and his footballer brothers Akpo Sodje and Efe Sodje have been accused in the UK of laundering £80,000 through their bank accounts.

A court heard that retired Premier League player Sam Sodje, who played for Reading FC, Charlton Athletic and also represented Nigeria at international level – along with his siblings Efe and Akpo, were allegedly involved in channeling proceeds from the scam which targeted firms in Colombia, India, Italy and Abu Dhabi.

Sam and Efe Sodje, who has now retired from football are on trial at the Old Bailey along with two other men, Emmanuel Ehikhamen and Andrew Oruma.

Efe Sodje finished his career as an assistant player-manager with Macclesfield Town.

His older brother, Akpo Sodje, an ex-footballer also who now lives in Dubai, has refused to return to the UK for interrogations in relation to the offences.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told jurors the total fraud over the course of a month in 2013 amounted to just under £80,000.

He said: ‘This case is about international money laundering. In November 2013 a number of companies around the world – in Colombia, India, Italy and Abu Dhabi – were the victims of fraud.

‘They were sent emails which they thought came from their suppliers to whom they owed money, but the emails provided new, false, bank details to which the money should apparently be sent.

‘There were two bank accounts to which these companies were tricked into sending money. One belonged to the first defendant, Emmanuel Ehikhamen, the other to a man named Akpo Sodje, brother of the defendants Efe Sodje and Sam Sodje.

‘The prosecution allege that all four of them and also the defendant Andrew Oruma were involved in an arrangement to facilitate the receiving and onward transmission of money which had been obtained by these frauds, keeping some as financial rewards for their assistance.’

Mr. Christopher told jurors there was no evidence any of the defendants were involved in the actual fraud. The evidence against them came from the way the money was passed between bank accounts as well as text and WhatsApp messages.

The prosecutor said the issue in the trial would be whether the defendants received money, transferred it on or withdrew it in cash knowing or suspecting it was the proceeds of crime.

At the hearing, Sam Sodje of Dartfort, Kent, denied one count of money laundering, two counts of acquiring criminal property, converting criminal property and transferring criminal property.

Efe Sodje, of Stockport, Manchester and Andrew Oruma, of Thamesmead, east London,  also denied one count of money laundering.

While Ehikhamen, of Bexleyheath, Kent, also denied three counts of acquiring criminal property, five counts of converting criminal property and three counts of transferring criminal property.

The trial continues.

Meanwhile, Sam Sodje who made four appearances for Nigeria,  was fined £10,000 in 2013, after he was paid £70,000 for football match-fixing. He punched a rival player in the groin twice and was sent off in the match between Oldham Athletic and Portsmouth.

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