Three siblings of Nigerian origin convicted for fraud in UK
A United Kingdom Court has convicted three siblings for laundering nearly £1m for an organised crime syndicate Black Axe using UK bank accounts.
Black Axe is a banned organisation in Nigeria that has been linked to decades of murders, rapes, extortion and drug dealing in Nigeria and across the world, with members allegedly swearing a ‘blood oath’ to join, a statement by Crown Prosecution Service said.
The trio were identified as Okemiorukaye Nakpodia, 56, Esther Nakpodia, 35, and Unuakpotovo Nakpodia, 46.
The three siblings who lived in Greenwich London were working directly for the leader of the notorious Nigerian crime gang Augustus Bemigho-Eyeoyibo who is married to one of them.
“Esther Nakpodia claimed to have never heard of Black Axe, denying links to the organisation – this despite the fact her sister has been married to the group’s leader for 14 years,” Philip Slough, for the CPS, said.
“Esther denied knowing that Augustus Bemigho-Eyeoyibo is involved in gang activity, and said she believed he was a reputable businessman. She accepted being in possession of £28,000 when arrested – this was money withdrawn from her bank account and was taking it with her to Nigeria to give to her sister and brother-in-law in person,” he added.
Slough further stated that “a number of incriminating text messages were found on her mobile phone seized from her upon arrest, revealing her deep involvement in the laundering of these funds.”
But her sister “Unuakpotovo Nakpodia admitted opening and controlling numerous bank accounts – between January 2007 and February 2015, she received over £700,000 of suspicious payments from between 65-70 unconnected parties in 16 different countries. Unuakpotovo also denied being part of a conspiracy to money launder the proceeds of crime.”
While “Okemiorukaye accepted all transactions relating to the bank accounts attributed to him – he received nearly £50,000 of direct suspicious payments from eight unconnected third parties in three different countries. He claimed not know the source of these transfers.”
“This strong evidence confirmed that the Nakpodias had been actively involved for a number of years in a conspiracy to launder money which had been stolen by others using phone and email scams,” Slough said.
“This prosecution will play a role in starving a dangerous criminal gang of funds and we will seek to recover their proceeds of crime at a later hearing,” he added.
They laundered the proceeds of hundreds of frauds between 2007 and 2015 with over 174 suspicious transactions entering their bank accounts.
“We were able to show the Nakpodias were talking to Augustus Bemigho-Eyeoyibo, the leader of Black Axe, based on conversations found on their devices. They talked about the amounts, and what to do with the funds after they arrived, including how much to keep for themselves,” Slough said.
The three siblings are expected to appear in court on May 24 for sentencing.