Friday, 06 March 2015

Guilty verdict in Ujima money laundering trial

A woman has been found guilty of laundering £42,000 stolen from Ujima Housing Association.

Rosalinda Avwunu, 55 of Purley in Surrey, was found guilty of money laundering and transfer of criminal property by a jury at Isleworth Crown Court today.

The trial concerned £42,000 stolen from Ujima Housing Association which was paid in to Mrs Avwunu’s bank account in 2007.

The prosecution alleged that Mrs Avwunu knew or suspected that money transferred into the account was the proceeds of alleged crime by her husband. She denied any knowledge of or involvement in the fraud.

Her Hon Judge Molyneaux told the court: ‘That money was stolen from a housing corporation [Ujima Housing Association] by which her husband Mr George Avwunu was then employed. The money left her account in fairly short order from when it was paid in and then used on various expenses.’

Mr Avwunu was the finance director of Ujima. He absconded from bail in 2009 and has not been seen since.

The judge told Mrs Avwunu that she may go to prison for the offence.

She is on bail until she is sentenced on 12 August.

The judge told the court Mrs Avwunu is the mother of three boys aged 19 to 13 and had cared for them alone since her husband disappeared.

She said: ‘The signs are her boys are doing very well and she is an excellent parent to them.’

The judge said Mrs Avwunu’s viewed her role in her marriage was to ‘pretty much to do as she was told to do by her husband’.

During the trial Mrs Avwunu said she knew nothing about her husband’s business affairs.

This week’s trial was a retrial as a jury failed to reach a verdict on Mrs Avwunu at a previous hearing in February.

At that hearing Dr Paul Campayne, 47 of Coulsdon in Surrey, was found guilty of seven counts of money laundering and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Dr Campayne received £208,000 from George Avwunu and transferred a total of £160,000 of the money into bank accounts belonging to Mrs Avwunu, and into an investment firm owned by Mr Avwunu. At his trial Dr Campayne denied knowing or suspecting the money was the proceeds of crime.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Sean Farley

    The silence on here is defening. perhaps the PC Police have called?

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  • Aeodwrath. That made me laugh. I'm sure the usual Citizen Smith crowd are hard at work drafting comments which blame all this on the Rt Hon G Shapps

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  • Rick Campbell

    Or maybe the silence is there because the story isn't that interesting to people outside London or wherever?

    Or maybe perople are waiting until the glorious 12th when sentencing takes place?

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  • Freedom for Tooting............

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  • Rick Campbell

    Freedom from Shapps ........... pmsl as they say on facebook

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  • Aeodwrath, thanks, that made me laugh so much. I've never seen so much as a single comment on any of these reports on this particular case, even though it is a case of serious HA fraud and corruption. Yet nada (and lets face it, some people leap at the chance to slag of HA's as much as others do to slag off tenants).

    Can't imagine why the are timid to commenting negatively on this one....

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  • Narra, you may not have read the piece correctly, it is not a case of HA fraud, it is a case of a HA being defrauded. Essentially there is no real comment to make on a reporting of the known facts.

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  • Speaking personally, and without any axe to grind, I hope that all of the people in these shocking Ujima cases receive sentences which are properly deterrent and proportionate to their misdeeds.

    I honestly don't think that "PC" necessarily comes into choosing or not whether to comment on this case, any more than it might flavour one's consideration of the great probity, dedication and commitment to public service which the majority of millions of UK public sector workers (from all backgrounds) display in carrying out their jobs.

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  • I cannot see why anybody would think that "political correctness" is inhibiting people from commenting.
    Ujima was the victim of fraud by a few individuals in key positions.
    Those criminals effectively destroyed an organisation that had worked hard for many years to improve the lives of vulnerable people, both through general needs and especially supported housing and care schemes.
    I accept that this is true of many public sector employees as Kwesi suggests; but having worked in several RSL in various capacities, I can honestly say that the dedication of many staff at Ujima was exceptional.
    The fraud was committed against the association, its staff and tenants by a few corrupt individuals.
    Other factors included the over-ambitious growth aspirations that the new Senior Mgt and Board brought in.
    These newcomers' growth aspirations were only possible because Ujima had for many years been performing so well and had been meeting development targets consistently (although I believe it was approaching the limits of its borrowing to support growth).
    Certainly Ujima was struggling to improve aspects of its housing management service - but no more than any other RSL in my opinion.
    If "Aeodwrath", "Narra" and their supporters would care to actually make a point of some sort, perhaps we can debate it?

    Let me be the first to say that I do have an axe to grind as I was proud to play a role in Ujima for several years previous to the disastrous new management team coming into place.

    Believe me, nobody wants to see these criminals brought to justice more than people whose ideals, aspirations and achievements were exploited by these people.

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