Three Sodje brothers have been sentenced to prison after siphoning cash from their own charity set up to help African children, BBC reports.
Ex-footballers Efe Sodje, 46, and Stephen Sodje, 43, and ex-rugby player Bright Sodje, 52, were found guilty and jailed for the fraud in 2017 with the case only reported now following the conclusion of a separate trial involving former Reading and Nigeria footballer Sam Sodje, 39.
The fraud trial in 2017 had heard how the family set up the Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF) in 2009, ostensibly to help provide facilities in Nigeria. However, cash raised at black-tie dinners, auctions, charity football matches, and a clay pigeon shoot went into Sodje bank accounts, prosecutor Julian Christopher QC said.
In one instance, in 2011, there was a gala dinner at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester for the SSF and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. The £150-a-head black-tie event raised almost £11,500, but Mr. Christopher said “not a penny” went to the hospital.
Julian further stated that “at least £63,000 can be shown to have been received by the fund”, and added that this did not include cash donations. The defendants “went out of their way” to ensure that proper records were not kept, he said.
Stephen Sodje, of Bexley, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison for receiving £30,000 in charity funds. Efe Sodje, of Cheadle in Greater Manchester, who was “the face” of the charity, was given 18 months in jail for receiving £7,500 from the SSF and an unknown amount from a clay pigeon shooting event. Bright Sodje, of Sale in Greater Manchester, was jailed for 21 months for receiving £3,000 from the charity and signing cheques to other family members totaling £18,000.
Sam Sodje, who also played for Charlton Athletic, Brentford and Leeds United during his career, was charged with four counts of taking part in a fraud in which bank accounts were used to channel money from companies around the world.
Another of the brothers, Akpo Sodje, 37, moved to Dubai and refused to return to Britain for questioning.