Company director jailed over £6m illegal worker scam
PUBLISHED: 16:35 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 16:39 30 January 2015
Dartford woman helped in use of security firm as front for employing illegal workers
A COMPANY director who participated in a £6 million scam which exploited illegal workers was today jailed for five years following a Home Office investigation.
Sandra Okoh, 33, of Salisbury Road, Dartford, helped directors and staff of Erith-based security firm Blue Feathers Guarding Ltd to use the company as a front for employing illegal workers.
Contractors using the firm were charged full rates, but Blue Feathers paid their illegal workers £3 an hour, often on 24-hour shifts. Employees were unable to complain to the authorities as doing so would have revealed their illegal status.
The Home Office’s South London Criminal Investigations team, supported by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), raided the company’s Veridion Way offices in October 2012. They searched the premises and discovered a large amount of forged identification documents.
A jury convicted directors Anthony Okoh and Victor Chiazor following a three month trial which finished in February last year. They were sentenced to four-and-a-half years and 18 months respectively in March, although Anthony Okoh’s sentence was increased to eight years after the Home Office appealed the original one. He was also disqualified as a director for six years.
The jury could not reach a verdict on Sandra Okoh and Obey Makusha and they faced a re-trial which started at Blackfriars Crown Court on October 12, 2014. Sandra Okoh was convicted on December 18. Obey Makusha was cleared.
Sandra Okoh was sentenced at the same court on Friday, January 30.
Assistant Director Martin Huxley, from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: “This conviction and sentencing shows we will relentlessly pursue those who seek to cheat the UK’s immigration laws.
“Sandra Okoh exploited these employees, taking advantage of their immigration status in the UK and helping to fuel the hidden economy.
“Our specialist teams regularly work with partners including the Security Industry Authority to clamp down on all forms of immigration abuse for criminal gain.”
A timetable has also been set for proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to start.
The Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team is a specialist unit of seconded police officers working alongside warranted Home Office immigration enforcement officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.