The mastermind of a six-strong gang that laundered £240,000 by setting up a fake catering business has been jailed for three and a half years.
Michael Akindele, 50, of Carshalton, Surrey, set up the firm to fraudulently claim VAT payments totalling £240,974.29, and, with five others, laundered the money through their bank accounts.
But investigators from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) swooped after they found the gang had hijacked an innocent person’s identity to start the business.
The fraud was uncovered by HMRC’s VAT repayment taskforce, set up to identify those who fraudulently claimed VAT repayments.
Investigators also found Akindele had set up other fake businesses including a newsagents, tobacconist and IT consultants as part of the fraud.
Brett Wilkinson, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said: “This gang thought they were above the law and that they could get away with cheating the system. They were wrong and they are paying the price for their greed.”
Akindele, a director of TGL Logistics, based in Mitcham, Surrey – which handles exports mainly to Nigeria – and accomplice Abdul Mohamed, 30, of Chiswick, West London, both admitted money laundering. Akindele also pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue.
The gang was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court this month. As well as the three and a half years handed down to Akindele, Mohamed was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for 15 months. He must also do 120 hours of unpaid work.
Four others, who pleaded guilty, were alongside them in the dock: Akindele’s wife Abimbola an accountant, 44; Sunday Adejobi, 36, of Finsbury Park, North London; Abiodun Gbadamosi, 42, of South Ockenden, Essex; and Kayode Sangosanya, 45, of Shepherd’s Bush, West London.
They all admitted money laundering and were each sentenced to three months in jail, suspended for 12 months, and 100 hours of unpaid work.