A gang of fraudsters – including one from the Black Country – tricked the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) out of £2.3 million, a court heard.
The gang, who also came from London, Essex, Leeds and Berkshire, contacted the ODA, which is responsible for planning and building venues and Games-related infrastructure, pretending to work for construction firm Skanska.
The ODA was told that the company, which has worked on numerous projects for the 2012 Games, was changing its bank account details and that all future payments should be made to the new account. T
he authority then made a payment of £2.3 million into the account, which was in fact held by ringleader Ansumana Kamara.
After the money was paid, Kamara then made a series of rapid transactions to try to cover his tracks, prosecutor James Dawes said. Kamara, who has previously appeared before the courts in relation to the matter, also put money into accomplices’ accounts before attempting to wire a cheque for £2 million to Nigeria. Eight co-conspirators, who are standing trial at Southwark Crown Court, then laundered the cash, it is alleged.
“People involved in money laundering take great effort to try and disguise the money trail,” said Mr Dawes.
“This case relates to what they tried to do with the £2 million to try and break the money trail. It involved taking it out in cash, but the plan was to break the trail by other means to send the money out of the country to Nigeria.”
Mr Dawes told the court that in the second week of May 2010, someone purporting to be from Skanska telephoned ODA purchase ledger clerk Donna Mills to inform her that the company’s bank details were to be changed. They then contacted her by post in a forged letter advising her of the changes. On May 25, 2010, the ODA, which is based in Canary Wharf in London, paid the £2.3 million into the new bank account. Initially, the gang had planned to defraud various companies of £6 million, the court heard.
“The fraudsters hoped to get more because they had big plans for this money,” Mr Dawes said.
Mr Dawes told jurors that fraudsters also tried to con Dorset County Council, which is the authority responsible for the Olympics site in Weymouth, Network Rail and another construction company called Minerva, in a similar manner but were unsuccessful in their attempts. They did manage to scam £86,645 from Universal Builders Supply using the same tactic. Kamara’s alleged accomplices, two women and eight men, all deny money laundering charges.
Sanjeev Kumar, aged 30, of Bell Street, Bilston, denies one charge of money laundering.
Shamsidden Owo, 75, of Brookfield Road, Hackney, east London, and his son Abayomi Olowo, 48, of Windsor Road, Harrow, north west London, are both charged with four counts.
Ayodele Odukoya, 42, of Paignton Close, Romford, Essex, and Shakeela Ayub, 28, of Brudenell Road, Leeds, both deny two charges of money laundering. Nadeem Khan, 38, of Richmond Crescent, Slough, Berkshire, Mbinty Kargbo, 26, of Crofton Road, Camberwell, south east London and Sakiru Adewale, 57, of no fixed abode, each deny one charge of money laundering.