Money launderer jailed for £155,000 university con

John Fitzgerald
John Fitzgerald
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A South Kelsey man has been jailed for 18 months after he admitted plotting to swindle the Open University out of more than £155,000.

The Old Bailey heard how John Fitzgerald, 30, of Waddingham Road, South Kelsey, pleaded guilty to money laundering offences.

Matthew King, 29, of St Hybalds Grove, Brigg, also admitted money laundering charges and has been sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months.

A third man, financial advisor Richmond Ekwenye, 42, of Abbey Mews, Dunstable, has been jailed for three years and nine months after a trial.

The court heard Ekwenye passed £155,617 from the university fraud - and £121,952 from a second scam involving a US law firm - through a series of bank accounts.

The Open University was conned in August 2012 after bosses were told to change the bank details they used to pay supplier Rapp Media. The law firm fraud happened between March and April.

Money from the frauds was transferred into King’s bank account, set up by Ekwenye.

The court was told Fitzgerald later sent a message to Ekwenye warning him King had been arrested in April.

Prosecuting, William Eaglestone said: “Ekwenye was the prime mover for those two conspiracies, he’s the one who set up the bank accounts and organised Mr King through Mr Fitzgerald into receiving or carrying out the arrangement, something to facilitate Mr King getting the money.”

He added: “Officers knocked on his (Ekwenye’s) door, they heard the toilet flush and eventually (when) Mr Ekwenye opened the door officers found torm-up pieces of paper in the toilet bowl. They searched the house and found bank letters and people’s names and addresses in various notebooks.”