The Woolwich-based ringleaders of a £6 million scam to exploit illegal workers in Erith have been jailed for a total of six years.
Anthony Okoh, 45, and Victor Chiazor, 50, ran security firm Blue Feathers Guarding Ltd, based in Veridion Way in Erith, using the company as a front for employing illegal workers.
Okoh, of Floathaven Close, Woolwich, and Chiazor, of Nightingale Vale, Woolwich, charged full rates to contractors but paid their illegal workers £3 an hour, often on 24-hour shifts.
Employees were unable to complain to the authorities as doing so would have revealed their illegal status.
The Home Office’s south London criminal investigations team, supported by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), raided Blue Feathers’ offices in October 2012.
They searched the premises and discovered a large amount of forged identification documents.
Officers arrested Okoh and Chiazor, along with four other directors.
Two were acquitted during the three-month trial at Woolwich Crown Court, while another two will face a retrial.
Okoh was found guilty on February 12 of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977, and using unlicensed security operatives contrary to the Private Security Industry Act 2001.
On Friday (March 14) he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years for the first charge and two years for the second, to be served concurrently.
Chiazor, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced to 18 months in prison for count one and three months for count two, also to be served concurrently.
Hannah Shirley, from the Home Office’s immigration enforcement criminal investigations team, said: “These two men duped contractors out of millions of pounds in illegal working wages and ruthlessly exploited their employees, preying on their immigration status in the UK.
“It was a cynical attempt to circumvent immigration rules but, working with our partners at the Security Industry Authority, our officers smashed their web of deceit.
“The custodial sentences handed down today show the Home Office will relentlessly pursue and bring to justice those who seek to cheat immigration laws.”
Ayinla Alhaji, 53, of no fixed abode, who was employed by Blue Feathers, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and illegal immigration.
The court issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to turn up for the trial.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit crimestoppers-uk.org