Ex-Nigeria defender jailed for fraud
Posted: 23 January 2019 Time: 16:00
A former Nigeria international and his two brothers were arrested after being found guilty of fraud through a charity foundation claimed to be helping sick and underprivileged children in Africa.
The three brothers Efe, Stephen and Bright Sodjie were found to have acquired more than £60,000 (R1.09m) through the Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF), a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation found.
They were jailed in September two years ago but their identity was not disclosed to the public - Efe Sodje for 18 months, Bright Sodje for 21 months, and Stephen Sodje for two years and six months.
On Monday, a judge finally lifted reporting restrictions preventing publication of the result of that trial, following the completion of a number of linked legal proceedings.
Efe Sodje played in England between 1995 and 2015 and appeared for Super Eagles in the 2000 African Cup of Nations and the 2002 World Cup, while Bright Sodje played professional rugby in the 1980s and 1990s.
The three brothers used their connections within professional football and business communities to secure support for their SFF foundation that was founded nine nearly a decade ago to give it an appearance of legitimacy.
Events over the three years, including charity football matches, raised funds but nothing reached any under-privileged or sick children.
"Bright, Efe and Stephen Sodje promoted themselves as generous, community-minded, figures when they were knowingly defrauding people who thought they were helping deprived children in Nigeria," NCA deputy director Chris Farrimond said, as per The BBC.
"NCA financial investigators built a detailed picture of the movement of money in and out of the foundation and showed beyond doubt that for most of the foundation's existence there was no charitable purpose."
Between 2011 and 2014 they defrauded donors of at least £63,000 (R1.14m).