The ringleader of a £6 million Erith illegal worker scam has had his prison sentence nearly doubled for being too lenient.
Anthony Okoh, of Floathaven Close, Woolwich, paid employees of his Blue Feathers Guarding UK security company less than half the minimum wage while charging full rates to contractors.
The 45-year-old was first exposed when a man employed as a security guard by Okoh came in to the now defunct Cross Street Law Centre in Erith in 2011 complaining of being paid just £3 an hour.
Paralegal Patrick McNamee, 54, took on the man’s case and in March this year at Woolwich Crown Court Okoh was finally found guilty of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
On July 30 this was increased to eight years after the Attorney General’s Office referred Okoh’s sentence to the Court of Appeal for being unduly lenient.
Mr McNamee told News Shopper: "It’s a highly appropriate increase in sentence.
"I have never come across such a tangled web of misuse of employment law.
"The scale of it was for me unprecedented in 20 years of working in the field.
"We became involved in this case because of one individual whose treatment was pretty abysmal and from what I have read of the court reports a lot of people were dealt with far worse.
"Many companies don’t abide by employment law but this was an orchestrated attempt to prey on the vulnerable."
Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce referred the man's case to the police after being contacted about it.
She said: "The types of exploitation and criminal activity this person engaged in merited a longer sentence than he was originally given.
"I am, therefore, pleased to see that justice has now been done.
"It also sends a strong message to anyone considering exploiting vulnerable workers and ripping off customers that they face a long sentence when caught."
A spokesman for the Attorney General said: "Many of the guards Okoh employed were foreign nationals who either had no right to be in the country or were not entitled to work whilst they were here.
"They were in no position to dispute the excessively long hours they worked or the paltry wages they were paid and, once the offender was at risk of exposure, he created false documentation designed to deceive anyone who might ask about the entitlement of his employees to work in this country."
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