UK Government

HM Revenue & Customs: Money launderers jailed for 24 years

Press Release  •  Oct 21, 2010 13:18 BST

Two men from South East London have been jailed for 24 years each for their part in money laundering and drug trafficking criminal activities.

John Obidegwu and Ike Johnson were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court to eight years each for money laundering offences and 24 years each for drug trafficking offences, to run concurrently.

Martin Brown, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said:

“HMRC investigators were able to connect Obidegwu and Johnson to these crimes and prove their involvement in criminal activities worth millions of pounds. These sentences make it clear to those tempted to launder money, or get involved in the illegal drugs trade, that they are taking a serious risk. I would encourage anyone with information relating to this type of crime to call our 24-hour Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 and help us to stamp it out.”

HMRC investigation officers uncovered the extent of Obidegwu & Johnson’s life of crime, when Obidegwu was the proprietor of a hairdresser’s called ‘New Dimensions’ in Deptford, which also operated a Western Union money transfer franchise. Examination of records for the franchise identified links to Obidegwu and payments being made to South America and Nigeria.

Officers arrested Obidegwu on 23 July 2009 who had £20,000 in £20 notes on him at the time of his arrest. In raids carried out on several properties in South East London, officers seized almost seven kilos of cocaine still wrapped in swallower packages, a large quantity of the drug cutting agent, phenacetin, at a flat controlled by Obidegwu. They also seized a total of £150,000, - . €113,000 in €500 notes, along with £12,000 in sterling at Obidegwu’s home address.

Records found during the searches and further investigation identified Johnson as a facilitator of the drug importations and linked him to laundering millions of pounds.

On 24 November 2009 Johnson was arrested. The court heard that the men would arrange for couriers to bring the drugs into the UK, mainly from Amsterdam and then sell the drugs on to dealers.

The trial commenced on 27 September 2010 at Croydon Crown Court. Johnson pleaded guilty to the money laundering offences on 27 September 2010. On 18th October 2010 Obidegwu was found guilty on all counts (of money laundering and drug trafficking) and Johnson was found guilty of the drug trafficking offence.

On the day of sentencing, His Honour Judge Flahive commended the officers who conducted the investigation.

Confiscation proceedings have been instigated to recover proceeds of these crimes for the public purse.

1. John Chukwuma Obidegwu (DOB 15.06.1956), born in Nigeria, was a British citizen of 28 Martock Court, Peckham was sentenced to a total of 56 years. He was found guilty on four counts of money laundering contrary to Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 and was sentenced to eight years for these charges. He was found guilty on a charge of importation of a controlled drug contrary to Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979 S170 over a two and a half year period and sentenced to 24 years for this charge. He was also found guilty on one charge of importing the 7 kilos found and possession of the cocaine with intent to supply and sentenced to 24 years for this charge. The sentences given are to run concurrently.

2. Ike Johnson (DOB 31.12.1971), born in Nigeria, a German citizen of 5 Buckingham Apartments, 173 Elmers Inn Road, Beckingham, was sentenced to a total of 32 years. He pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering contrary to POCA 2002 and was sentenced to eight years for these charges. He was found guilty to one charge of importation of a controlled drug contrary to CEMA 1979 S170, and sentenced to 24 years for this charge. The sentences given are to run concurrently.

3. Anyone with information relating to this type of crime is urged to call our 24-hour Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

4. Confiscation proceedings have been instigated to recover proceeds of these crimes for the public purse

5. Photos are available.

NAT 52/10

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

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