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Published On: Tue, Aug 8th, 2023

Gambian Crime Leader (Chune) Jailed For 6 Years, His Wife & Co Sentenced Over Money Laundering & Fraud From “Recruited illegal Migrants”

The leader of an organized crime group that recruited illegal migrants to work as cleaners in UK’s Sainsbury’s supermarkets, has been sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Michael Gledhill KC at Oxford Crown Court on Monday.

Momodou Chune, aged 55 and from Oxford, was found guilty of six counts of assisting unlawful immigration and three counts of concealing criminal property. Along with Chune, four others were sentenced at Oxfordshire Crown Court for their roles in the criminal gang, which profited from the facilitation, work placement, and housing of around 40 illegal workers, mainly from West Africa.

The Home Office’s Criminal and Financial Investigations unit conducted an investigation that led to the arrest of the defendants. Over a decade of activity, the gang profited approximately £600,000 from wages of illegal workers and “ghost” workers. The majority of the illegal workers had more than one name and identity, with Chune faking employees to obtain more money in false wages from his employers.

From 2006 to 2016, Chune abused his position as an area manager for two contract firms to employ illegal migrants to work as cleaning staff at nine Sainsbury’s stores in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. Chune recruited each of the illegal workers knowing they had no right to work. Evidence showed he had control over what the workers were paid as he had their wages paid into his accounts and the accounts of those close to him. He also controlled where some of the illegal workers lived by providing them with rooms across his multi-million-pound property portfolio.

The court heard Chune would pay illegal workers in cash but would deduct rent from those he housed. Chune, alongside others in the gang, was found to have laundered more than £310,000 in wages through one of the contract companies to illegal workers and fake workers through multiple bank accounts.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick stated that “illegal working not only encourages illegal migration – it damages our communities, cheats honest workers out of employment, and defrauds the public purse as the businesses and workers do not pay taxes.”

The offences were committed between 2006 and 2016. Others are variously accused of possession of false identity documents, possession of criminal property, fraud, and money laundering.

The defendant, Chune, engaged in the provision of illegal workers with multiple PIN numbers, which were utilized to calculate an individual’s pay based on their logged hours and duration of work. Each of the illegal workers was recruited by Chune, despite their lack of authorization to work. Evidence presented in court demonstrated that Chune exercised control over the workers’ wages, directing them to be paid into his accounts and those of his associates. Additionally, Chune provided accommodation to some of the illegal workers across his extensive property portfolio, thereby controlling their place of residence. The court heard that Chune paid some of the workers in cash, but deducted rent from those he housed. For instance, one worker received £250 in cash per month, while their rent to Chune was £220 per month. Another worker claimed to have received £5 per hour in cash for cleaning services.

Chune’s co-defendants included his wife, Sabbeh Jeng, Isaac Nimo, Helen Tankoh, and Ebrima Jabang.  Jeng, Nimo, and Tankoh were given suspended jail terms for fraud offenses.

Sabbeh Jeng was found guilty of concealing criminal property with Chune amounting to £31,685 and was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years.

Tankoh was found guilty of concealing criminal property with Chune amounting to over £200,701 and was sentenced to 18 months suspended for two years.

 Nimo was found guilty of fraud by abusing his position as a supervisor at ECS and receiving wages he was not entitled to. He was sentenced to two years suspended for two years.

Jabang, who was found guilty of concealing criminal property with Chune amounting to £78,638 and pleaded guilty to possession of an identity document with intent, was sentenced to 23 months imprisonment. It is believed that Jabang has left the country for The Gambia through Morocco, and an arrest warrant has been issued under his name in June 2023.

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