London court considers confiscation of Ibori assets

james ibori

James Ibori: faces confiscation hearing

Jailed James Onanefe Ibori, former governor of Nigeria’s Delta state has been facing a confiscation hearing at Southwark Crown Court.

His lawyer has told the court that Ibori did not make a single penny from the £157million fraud, for which he was jailed by the same court two years ago.

Applying to have confiscation proceedings thrown out, Ivan Krolick, defending, said Ibori’s pleas of guilt were not an admission that he personally profited from the scam. If the court accepted his argument, Ibori would only forfeit £330,000, reports said.

The confiscation hearing is being conducted under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

James Ibori: faces confiscation hearing
James Ibori: faces confiscation hearing

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said: ‘The handling of the money itself gave rise to the crime so the benefit of the crime in the context of this case would be the same thing. It gives rise to the proceeds of crime. The Crown has been taken wholly by surprise that Mr Krolick should address the court and say that there was no evidence in effect that Mr Ibori benefited’.

Ibori was excused from attending the hearing and Judge Anthony Pitts is expected to rule on Friday whether he will face a full confiscation hearing.

Ibori, with a residential address in Hampstead, north west London, was sentenced to 13 years behind bars in April 2012 after admitting a raft of fraud and money laundering offences.

His trial in the UK provided headline stuffs as the court unveiled Ibori’s conviction record while working as a cashier at Wickes in Ruislip, Middlesex in the 80s, where he married his wife, Theresa.

In 1990 the pair were convicted of stealing goods from the store and fined £300. A year later Ibori was fined £100 for handling a stolen credit card before he moved back to Nigeria.

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Ibori was elected as governor of Delta State in 1999. He was re-elected in 2003.

During that time, the court was told that he systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world.

His methods included the inflation of State contracts, kickbacks and the transfer of cash from the State accounts by unscrupulous employees in his inner circle.

In one instance he rigged the tendering process for state contracts in cahoots with his mistress Udoumaka Okoronkwo, who would be due to face confiscation proceedings alongside Ibori.

The couple used Okoronkwo’s companies Sagicon, Rivbbed and Saagaris – the latter of which their four-month old love-child was named as a director of – to ‘bid’ for inflated deals to provide items to the state including china and vehicles.

The money was then channelled out of Nigeria before it was laundered through a series of off-shore trusts and companies.
Ibori was also helped to steal the cash by his wife Theresa, sister Christine Ibori-Ibie, and a series of corrupt professionals – UK London based lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, fiduciary agent Daniel Benedict McCann and corporate financier, Lambertus De Boer.

He was arrested by officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria in December 2007.
Two years later at a court in Ibori’s hometown in Asaba, 170 charges of corruption were dismissed on the basis that there was no clear evidence to convict.

The case was reopened in April 2010 by the EFCC before Ibori fled to Dubai. He was finally extradited back to the UK in April 2011.

Ibori admitted ten offences relating to conspiracy to launder funds from Delta State, substantive counts of money laundering and one count of obtaining a money transfer by deception and fraud.