FORMER Super Eagles skipper Austin Jay-Jay Okocha has appeared before an Aberdeen Sheriff Court to face money laundering allegations after police charged him with aiding and abetting the illegal transfer of cash within and outside the UK.
Regarded as an icon, Okocha, 45, who describes himself on his social media profile as The Football Magician, made 124 appearances in the Premier League, scoring 14 goals for Bolton Wanderers between 2002 and 2006. A former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Fenerbahce star, who represented Nigeria at the 1994, 1998 and 2002, World Cups, however, is facing two charges, which were read to him during the closed-door hearing on Friday.
Okocha faces one charge in relation to the alleged acquisition, use and possession of criminal property and another relating to allegedly concealing, disguising, converting and transferring criminal property. It is understood the appearance relates to incidents alleged to have happened in northeast England in 2015.
Police began investigations in 2015 which spanned two years before charges were brought against Okocha and six others. Five of those involved are alleged to have carried out fraud related to northeast businesses.
After Friday’s hearing, Okocha, who is now retired to Milton Keynes, was granted bail, while the case against him was continued for further examination. No date has yet been fixed for his next court appearance.
A 1996 Olympic Games gold medallist, Okocha, who also scored 14 times for Nigeria in 73 appearances, helped the Super Eagles win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. During his appearance, he made no plea during the hearing.
Okocha moved from Fenerbahce in Turkey to PSG in 1998 for a transfer fee of €12.4m. A mercurial attacking midfielder, he also played for Hull City in the English Championship before retiring from the sport after the 2008/09 season.