Peckham Accountant jailed for assisting sham marriages
An accountant who helped beneficiaries of an international sham marriage gang stay in the UK illegally has been jailed for more than 5 years.
Soloman Adekotujo, 58, of Heaton House, Heaton Road, Peckham, produced fraudulent letters and payslips to the Home Office from European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, claiming they were exercising their treaty rights by working at his business. These individuals were in fact part of a sham marriage ring that enabled non EEA nationals to remain in the UK illegally.
On 11 March 2013 a jury found Adekotujo guilty of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and fraud following a six-day trial at Woolwich Crown Court. He was sentenced to five years and six months for the immigration charge and three months for the fraud charge, to run concurrently, at the same court on Friday 12 April.
When specialist investigators from the Home Office’s South London immigration crime team raided Adekotujo’s businesses – Solomon and Co, Scul Consulting and Moora Cargo Services – on the Old Kent Road in October 2012 they found letters of employment and accountancy documentation for the EEA nationals but no evidence that they had ever lived in the UK.
Officers linked Adekotujo to the sham marriage gang run by Nigerian nationals, which arranged for EEA ‘brides’ and ‘grooms’ to marry West Africans in return for cash.
All beneficiaries of the eight ‘marriages’ arranged by this criminal network have been identified and steps are being taken to remove them from the country. Officers in The Netherlands have also arrested alleged fake brides and grooms and prosecution is ongoing.
The ringleader of the ‘fixer’ gang, Waheed Salau, of Myrtle Road, Romford, is currently serving a four-and-a-half year jail sentence after admitting conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration in April 2012. Salau’s partner, Esther Obatuyi, also of Myrtle Road, was sentenced alongside him for the same offence. Accomplice Daniel Onasanya, of Lillechurch Road, Dagenham, is serving eight months for seeking leave to remain by deception.
Among those that Adekotujo falsely claimed worked for him were Dutch nationals Doanne Spanner and Soraida Decaster. Spanner was involved in a sham marriage to Salau to enable him to remain in the UK and assisted with travel arrangements as part of the criminal network. It is believed the ‘bride’ was an imposter as she and Salau never met in person.
Spanner was extradited from The Netherlands in October 2012 and sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting conspiracy to facilitate illegal immigration in the UK.
Decaster entered a sham marriage with Onasanya, although it is believed the bride was also an imposter, and has been arrested in Holland. Neither Spanner or Decaster have ever lived in the UK despite Adekotujo producing pay slips and letters to make it seem as if they had.