Northern Ireland

Bids to identify fraud accused 'unsuccessful'

Scales of justice

A judge has expressed astonishment that Nigerian authorities seemingly will not co-operate in confirming the identity of an alleged serial fraudster.

Oluseye Sunday Olundegun, 36, of Burmah Street, Belfast, denies 12 fraud charges.

Contact was attempted by police and UK Border Agency (UKBA) officials in a bid to establish his true identity.

Lord Justice Coghlin was told requests for help from Nigeria's High Commission in London have so far drawn a blank.

The charges against Mr Olundegun include fraud by false representation, possession of false identity documents and having articles for use in fraud.

The alleged offences, which span a four-year period, relate to bogus passports and other documentation he is accused of having.

Mr Olundegun was arrested in September after allegedly using a false document to apply for a Northern Ireland driver's licence.

During a High Court bail application, the judge was told that no reply has been received to e-mails sent to the Nigerian High Commission on December 10 in a bid to establish the veracity of an identity card purportedly in his name.

A UKBA chief immigration officer said authorities in the African state had "a fairly relaxed approach" to contact with their British counterparts.

An investigating police officer told the court he was put on hold and then cut off on two occasions he phoned the London office.

After being informed of the situation, Lord Justice Coghlin remarked: "I find it extraordinary that a nation state will not co-operate, apparently, with the identification of its own citizens. Most national states respond directly."

Mr Olundegun's barrister disputed any claim that he was involved in a major fraud.

He told the court: "He's not a master forger. He's not part of an organised crime network."

The hearing was adjourned until next week in an attempt to gain more information.