A business graduate has received a fully suspended sentence for money-laundering after allowing his bank account to be used to handle over €21,000 stolen by scammers.
Jackson Sije (31) told gardaí he thought he was helping a fellow student to receive money from home for college and living expenses in Dublin in June 2019.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the funds were, in fact, the proceeds of a “phishing scam” uncovered by staff at an Irish company.
Sije who is originally from Nigeria and has an address at Alderwood Green, Springfield, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct at a location in Dublin on June 25, 2019.
Detective Garda Alan Carroll, of Swords Garda Station, told the court that a laptop and a Nigerian passport were found when officers searched Sije’s rented accommodation.
The court heard Sije agreed to be interviewed voluntarily and told gardaí he agreed to help a person he met in college whose father wanted to send money for tuition fees and living expenses.
Sije told gardaí that after receiving the funds to his account, he travelled by car to locations in Dublin, including Tallaght and Mary Street, where withdrawals were made.
He also gave up online banking login details, and other transfers were made to an account in Germany.
The entire sum of €21,538.30 was dispersed out of Sije’s bank account within a day. The court heard he is unable to pay anything back to the business which was defrauded.
Kieran Kelly BL, defending, said his client graduated from Dublin Business School last year and is the father of one child.
Counsel said his client is the youngest of five siblings and originally comes from Delta State in Nigeria, where his father is a businessman.
Mr Kelly said Sije had entered his plea at the earliest opportunity and has at all times stated he was never involved in the phishing scam or paid for processing the money.
“He is very shocked to find himself before the courts, but accepts he has only himself to blame and expresses remorse,” Mr Kelly said. “He accepts that this was a very stupid thing to do.”
The court heard that the DPP accepts Sije allowed his account to be used in this way out of a “misplaced sense of patriotism” -- but that doing so was “reckless in the extreme”.
“It is very easy, in some ways, to commit, but a conviction for money-laundering is a very serious conviction to have for someone who wishes to travel or pursue a career in business,” said Judge Pauline Codd.
Judge Codd sentenced Sije to two years imprisonment, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years.