Ex-Hibs striker Akpo Sodje ‘allegedly involved in international fraud’

Akpo Sodje in action for Hibs against Hamilton at New Douglas Park. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Akpo Sodje in action for Hibs against Hamilton at New Douglas Park. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Former Hibs striker Akpo Sodje and two of his brothers allegedly helped launder cash from an £80,000 international fraud, a court has been told.

Sodje, along with his brother Sam - who appeared for a number of clubs including Reading and Charlton Athletic, and represented Nigeria at international level - and younger brother Efe, were allegedly involved in channelling proceeds from the scam which targeted firms in Colombia, India, Italy and Abu Dhabi.

Sam (left) and Efe Sodje are currently on trial at the Old Bailey along with two other men. Picture: PA Wire

Sam (left) and Efe Sodje are currently on trial at the Old Bailey along with two other men. Picture: PA Wire

Sam and Efe Sodje are on trial at the Old Bailey along with two other men, Emmanuel Ehikhamen and Andrew Oruma.

Akpo Sodje now lives in Dubai and has declined to return to Britain to be interviewed by detectives, but the court heard that his name was on one of two bank accounts that several companies around the world were tricked into paying money into in late 2013.

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.

Ehikhamen, 42, of south-east London, Oruma, 49, of Bexley, south London, Efe Sodje, 35, Cheadle, Greater Manchester, and Sam Sodje, 38, of Dartford, Kent, deny money laundering.

Akpo Sodje was signed for Hibs by Colin Calderwood in January 2011, and scored seven goals in 31 appearances but was released the following January after falling down the pecking order.

He appeared for Tianjin Teda, Preston North End, Scunthorpe United, Tranmere Rovers and Macclesfield Town after leaving Easter Road.