Assets worth more than £ 1 million have been reclaimed by the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) after a civil investigation into a Nigerian fraudster and his long-time Anglo-Indian partner, both of whom led an extravagant lifestyle despite their combined reported annual income of over £ 49,000 .
Ayodele Oluseye Odewale, aka Ayodele Balogun, 42, and his 21-year-old partner – 40-year-old Londoner Sara Bharat Yadav – have been instructed to hand over £ 1,011,431 to the NCA on the High Court after the British Proceeds of Crime Act week .
"Ayodele Oluseye Odewale and Sara Bharat Yadav had an extravagant lifestyle that was funded by stealing the identity of honest, law-abiding citizens. We have recovered their assets so that they do not benefit from their illegal activities," said Andy Lewis, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA.
"We are pleased that our commitment to this investigation has paid off as we have worked closely with partners such as the Metropolitan Police and the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit. We will continue our work to identify those involved in white collar crime Connect and take away their illegal assets, "he said.
NCA investigators found that the couple had deposited hundreds of thousands of pounds into their bank accounts annually, even though Ayodele Oluseye Odewale had not earned any legitimate earnings since being released from prison in 2005 and was well above Sara Bharat Yadav's executive salary.
According to the NCA, Ayodele Oluseye Odewale is a convicted fraudster with numerous dishonesty violations between 1998 and 2016 and has made millions from his scams.
He typically targeted people living in wealthy areas, researched their information based on public records, and fraudulently applied for credit cards on their behalf to withdraw cash.
Sara Bharat Yadav, Operations Manager at Imperial College London, and Ayodele Oluseye Odewale also bought properties in London and Liverpool, respectively, in which significant deposits were made.
These properties were subsequently sold, which the NCA believes was an attempt to launder the proceeds from Ayodele Oluseye Odewale's criminal activities.
After her verdict, Judge Maura McGowan found the NCA's evidence "detailed, convincing, and helpful."
The British court heard the couple send their three children to a private school, which costs £ 37,000 a year, and also enjoyed frequent luxury vacations in India, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Cape Verde and Turkey.
The NCA said it had recovered £ 797,431 from the couple's bank accounts, three Patek Philippe branded watches worth £ 199,000, and a private license plate worth £ 15,000.
Ben Russell, deputy director of the National Economic Crime Center, said: "Fraud causes real harm to people across the UK and we are committed to using all of our powers, including civilian reconstruction, to disrupt criminals and free money and wealth from their hands to take .
"The National Economic Crime Center plays a unique role in coordinating the response to white-collar crime and brings together the full strength of our partners from the public and private sectors."
The High Court ordered Tuesday that one of the watches and £ 140,759 attributable to two specific fraud cases be handed over to NatWest Bank to replace the money that was used to compensate two of their customers.
It is also believed that Ayodele Oluseye Odewale personified some of his victims by phone calls to their banks, ordered and intercepted replacement debit cards, which he then used to buy high-quality items such as watches.
These watches were then traded and sold, with the proceeds being laundered through bank accounts from Ayodele Oluseye Odewale and Sara Bharat Yadav.
Even when Ayodele Oluseye Odewale fled the UK in 2016, the couple continued to enjoy an extravagant lifestyle. The rent for Sara Bharat Yadav's house in London alone is almost £ 42,000 a year – more than her annual income.
For the past three years, they have owned expensive cars, including a Porsche Carrera, two Mercedes, and Sara Bharat. Yadav is currently driving an Audi RS4 that is worth around £ 60,000 when new.
Sara Bharat Yadav, who stayed in the UK when Ayodele Oluseye Odewale went to Nigeria, was also knowingly benefited by Justice McGowan from assets obtained through illegal behavior.
The judge said Sara Bharat Yadav had "dishonestly decided to ignore the illegality of the money" and enjoyed the luxury she offered, such as the gold Rolex she wore at the hearing.
NCA investigators described one of Ayodele Oluseye Odewale's statements that he made "hundreds of thousands of pounds" to finance his lifestyle at betting shops with fixed odd terminals as "inherently unlikely".
Ayodele Oluseye Odewale has provided evidence to the High Court on video from Nigeria because he is subject to a deportation order and cannot return to the UK. The judge noted that he showed "little concern for the victims of the fraud" and offered "naked (often angry) rejections" to questions asked by the NCA's lawyer.