• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

UK press feast on Ibori and his travails

James Ibori

The press in Britain continues to feast on the case of former Delta state governor James Ibori who was asked by a London court last week to forfeit assets in excess of one hundred billion found to have been acquired by corrupt means.
Below is the latest insertion published by the Daily Mail of London.

Wickes cashier who became corrupt Nigerian state governor and raked in up to £157million from the country’s public funds to buy a private jet, boarding school fees for his children and a fleet of armoured Range Rovers is ordered to pay back £101million
A corrupt former Nigerian politician has been ordered to pay back over £101million of his ill-gotten gains more than a decade after his conviction – or face going to jail again for eight years if he doesn’t.

James Ibori, 64, defrauded some of the poorest people in the world out of up to £157million of public funds during his time as Nigerian Delta State governor, lying about government contracts and embezzling cash.

The ex-Wickes cashier blew millions on luxury homes, a £12.6million private jet, fees at some of the UK’s most expensive boarding schools for his children, first-class travel and exclusive hotels. He even bought properties in Washington DC and Texas.

The crooked politician owned a £600,000 fleet of armoured Range Rovers, a £120,000 Bentley, and a £340,000 Mercedes Maybach that was shipped directly to his lavish £3.2million mansion in Johannesburg. He also had a £2.2million home in Hampstead – paid cash for in cash in 2001 – and a £311,000 townhouse in Dorset.

Ibori served four years in a UK prison before he voluntarily returned to Nigeria in December 2016 after being told he faced deportation. It’s believed he is still there.

Ibori had moved to the UK in the 1980s where he married and set up home with his wife, Theresa Ibori, in Nower Hill, Pinner, Middlesex. He worked as a cashier at a building supplies store Wickes in Ruislip, Middlesex, earning around £5,000 a year.

But after his time in Britain – which saw him being convicted of petty theft – Ibori moved back in his home county and became one of Nigeria’s most influential and wealthy politicians.

However, behind the scenes, he used a complex network of associates – including his wife, sister and his lover – to launder cash from his proceeds of crime.

He was eventually jailed for 13 years in 2012, after admitting to conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and conspiracy to make false instruments over a £23million fraud on Delta state and Akwa Ibom state between 2005 and 2007.

But at the time a sentencing judge branded this sum ‘ludicrously low’ claiming the amount the Ibori could have embezzled might have hit a staggering £200million.

And now, following one of the most complex confiscation proceeding investigations in British history, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) proved Ibori had benefited from his crimes to the tune of £101,514,315.21.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, today said: ‘This was one of our largest international cases and illustrates how robustly the CPS tackles international illicit finance and corruption.’

Judge David Tomlinson told Southwark Crown Court: ‘I am satisfied and formally declare that Ibori has benefited in sum of £101,514,315.21 inclusive in change of value of money in uplift.

‘I make a confiscation order in that sum because he has not satisfied me, nor has he really tried to satisfy me, that the full amount is not available.

‘I don’t find it disproportionate to order confiscation in the full amount.
“There will be eight years of imprisonment in default of payment”.