Former Sheffield Wednesday striker skips court as he and brothers go on trial over £80,000 money laundering scam

Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Akpo Sodje.
Former Sheffield Wednesday striker Akpo Sodje.

A former Sheffield Wednesday striker has refused to return to the UK to stand trial over an £80,000 money laundering scam alongside his brothers.

Ex-Owls ace Akpo Sodje and his brothers Sam and Efe, also both footballers, have gone on trial at the Old Bailey after the trio allegedly allowed their bank accounts to be used in return for a slice of the proceeds of cash stolen by fraudsters from a string of global companies.

But the court was told that Akpo, who scored nine goals in 41 appearances for Wednesday between 2007-10, has refused to return to the UK from his home in Dubai for the case.

Sam, 38, a defender who played for Reading, Charlton, Watford and Leeds, Nigerian World Cup defender Efe, 35, and Akpo, 37, stand accused of profiting from companies across the globe who were tricked into transferring money into accounts owned by Akpo Sodje and his alleged accomplice Emmanuel Ehikhamen, 32.

The money was then transferred on or withdrawn in cash by the Sodje brothers together with Ehikhamen and 49 year-old Andrew Oruma - with some of the money going to the Sodjes' mother Elizabeth, it is claimed.

Akpo arrived at Hillsborough in 2007, scoring a total of seven league goals in 16 starts and three substitute appearances in his first season at the club.

After being hailed by some Wednesdayites as "The black David Hirst", because of his strength and determination, Sodje cemented his place in Wednesday folklore with the opening goal in their 2–0 win over Sheffield United in January 2008.