On-the-run fraudster Victor Ayinde-Azeez's wife Ruth jailed

By Joe Sinclair and Rachel McAthy, Press Association

The wife of a fraudster who is on the run overseas was jailed for four years today for her part in an £8 million mortgage deception.

Ruth Ayinde-Azeez was sucked into the criminal world of her husband and came to enjoy the trappings of excessive wealth, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Her relationship with Victor Ayinde-Azeez was said to be a "meeting of minds" with the money "rolling in".

Mrs Ayinde-Azeez, 26, of Sandlewood Close, Barnet, was found guilty at trial last month of conspiracy to acquire, use or have criminal property and removing criminal property.

Judge Martin Beddoe said the "substantial mortgage fraud of some sophistication" was "engineered" by her husband with an account belonging to solicitors Phoenix Nova receiving more than £8 million.

He told Mrs Ayinde-Azeez, who laundered more than £1.25 million: "You were first the girlfriend and later the wife of Victor Ayinde-Azeez.

"The jury could not be sure that you were complicit in the mortgage fraud itself or that you had knowledge of how Victor was becoming so rich so quickly.

"But the jury concluded that you leant yourself to laundering the proceeds of whatever it was he was doing, knowing full well that it was the proceeds of crime.

"By the time the money was literally rolling in you were of that knowledge.

"I do accept that you got sucked into the dishonesty of your husband and it might well be the case that had you never met him you would never be in the position you are in in this court today.

"You were not stuck with Victor Ayinde-Azeez simply because you had his baby or because you were under some form of coercion.

"The evidence revealed to me that this relationship became a meeting of minds and you came fully to enjoy as he did the trappings of excessive wealth, so much so that you were prepared to follow his lead wherever it might take you."

Three others who took part in the fraud were also sentenced.

Isaac Matthews, 42, of Wittersham Close, Chatham, Kent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to acquire, use or have criminal property and two counts of entering into an arrangement in relation to criminal proceeds. Describing him as a "seasoned fraudster" the judge sentenced him to six years in jail.

The court heard he had previously been sentenced to nine years in the US for fraud.

Matthews used his sister, Anthonia Akinyele, 35, of the same address, to help launder the money through two companies.

In total £5.2 million went through the companies, Zikkito and Isaac and Isaac International.

The judge said: "I have no doubt you were to receive and were expecting to receive a very significant cut."

Akinyele, who pleaded guilty to acquiring, using or having criminal property and two counts of entering into an arrangement in relation to criminal proceeds, will be sentenced later.

Jason Mercer, 36, of Bronte Crescent, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to acquire, use or have criminal property.

The judge said Mercer, who obtained £111,000 to launder, conspired to play a part in the distribution of money being criminally obtained by Victor Ayinde-Azeez and others and sentenced him to 21 months.

David Hunter, 35, of Vauxhall Road, Hemel Hempstead, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

The judge sentenced him to three years and nine months in jail, saying he was responsible for losses of £1.5 million after lending his name to four fraudulent mortgage applications.

The court heard that 24 fraudulent mortgage applications were successfully made between June and December 2007.