A Nigerian prince ran a huge illegal immigration racket in the UK, a court was told yesterday.
Dr Yilkyes Bala, 54, was accused of using a complex web of security companies to mask a ‘systematic attack’ on Britain’s borders over eight years.
The African royal allegedly used dozens of refugee passports passed to him by a corrupt Home Office official to give fellow Nigerians new identities.
He then employed them and gave them references so they could ‘hit the jackpot’ and obtain a National Insurance number, giving them full rights of citizenship.
Bala even conspired with others to give his second wife and his brother false identities so they could join him at his home in South-East London, the jury heard.
He is on trial with six others – including his wife and ex-wife.
Simon Farrell QC, prosecuting, told Canterbury Crown Court the case was a ‘systematic attack against our immigration laws which took place over many years’.
‘In various ways all these defendants were involved in assisting individuals who had no right to be in the UK to live and work here,’ he added.
‘A corrupt Home Office official, since convicted of misconduct in a public office, assisted by providing hundreds of improperly issued refugee passports.’
Bala referred to himself as ‘His Royal Highness Prince Yilkyes Bala Tonglele PhD State Crown Prince’, the jury heard.
The court was told he runs the Armour Group of companies, which supplies private security guards.
It is linked to other firms including ABC Guarding Ltd, which became Mayfair and Knightsbridge Guarding Ltd in 2006.
Other defendants had senior roles, such as heads of finance and operations.
Mr Farrell said they ‘must have known that these people [illegal immigrants] were changing their identities’, adding: ‘Armour Group wrote references so they could get National Insurance numbers … This is quite sophisticated.
‘What happens is you get one of these passports and then you get a National Insurance number, then you really hit the jackpot … because you can live and work and be here at will.’
The headquarters of Armour Group, in Woolwich, south-east London, received 81 illicit refugee passports, the court heard.
After Bala was arrested, he attempted to blame the property’s receptionist for orchestrating the scam, Mr Farrell said.
The documents are meant for those claiming asylum in Britain, often fleeing religious or political persecution.
But the Home Office worker was illicitly applying for them in the name of non-existent relatives of real refugees.
She then passed them to Bala and other defendants who are accused of using them to help illegal immigrants stay in the UK.
All seven defendants deny conspiracy to breach immigration law between February 2003 and June 2011 and other immigration offences.