Nigerian born Anthony Ojo, from Gorton, Manchester, and his ex-wife Kemi Saidu, from Audenshaw, Manchester, had admitted fraud and immigration offences at a previous hearing before being sentenced last Thursday (26 August).
The pair were sentenced for tax credits and benefits fraud at the Manchester Crown Court Ojo was also sacked by the HMRC when his crimes were uncovered he was employed between March 2009 until December 2011.
The court heard Ojo’s wedding to Saidu in Nigeria in December 2007 was believed to be a ‘marriage of convenience’.
Saidu lived with him only briefly, or not at all on their arrival in the UK however Ojo, who is now the holder of a British passport, began claiming tax credits in December 2008 as part of a joint application with Saidu. He also under-declared his earnings to increase the amount of money he received.
Later Ojo submitted a single tax credits claim and continued to claim as a single person even when his new partner moved in.
He continued to lie about his income and claimed child benefit for two children that he had no responsibility for, in just over two years Ojo fraudulently claimed £22,400 he knew he wasn’t entitled to.
On moving to the UK Nigerian born Saidu was subject to immigration control and therefore not entitled to tax credits or child benefit.
However, she submitted a joint tax credits application and a separate child benefit claim for three children, two of whom didn’t live with her.
After leaving Ojo Saidu immediately moved in with another partner but submitted a claim for tax credits as a single person, in two and a half years she fraudulently claimed £27,888.
In addition to tax credits and benefits fraud both Ojo and Saidu allowed third parties to use their names and national insurance numbers in order to work illegally in the UK.
And despite claiming tax credits as a single person in 2011 Saidu applied to the Home Office for leave to remain in the UK on the basis of her ‘marriage’ to Ojo, which he supported, as a result of this action, both were charged with immigration offences.
Ojo was sentenced to a total of two years imprisonment for the offences Saidu was sentenced to a total of 12 months in jail suspended for two years and given a 150-hour community work order.
In court it was explained that her immigration status will be determined separately and that this conviction may be taken into account.
Speaking after the sentencing Ian Horridge senior manager HMRC said: “People who commit tax credits fraud should be warned – we are increasing our efforts into identifying and investigating cheats.
“The public expects HMRC employees to act with integrity, only the tiniest minority of our staff commit fraud but we deal decisively in such cases.”