James Onanefe Ibori is a Nigerian politician who was Governor of Delta State in Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. An ethnic Urhobo by descent, Ibori is a member of the People’s Democratic Party. He is an influential leader in the Niger Delta region and a national figure in Nigeria. Wikipedia
UK launches fresh bid to seize ‘£117m properties linked to Ibori‘
International–Metro–16 Jan 2020
Ibori: I expected Abba Kyari to pull through — he was strong …
THISDAY Newspapers–18 Apr 2020
Ibori loot: We won’t speculate for now – Delta
Ex-convict and former Delta State Governor, James Ibori had about 17 bank accounts linked to him in different countries across the world, including the United States, Britain, Austria, Ghana and Guernsey. The British Crown Prosecutor, Jonathan Kinnear, who made the startling disclosure at the Confiscation of Assets hearing of the two-time governor in Courtroom Three of Southwark Crown Court, last Friday, also revealed that Ibori paid over $4m for the private Bombardier Jet he bought in South Africa.
“Very large sums of money went into these accounts and Mr. Ibori has never explained the source of these funds,” he told the hearing, which opened on Thursday and is expected to last about two weeks, though scheduled for four. The hearing was also told of two accounts linked to Ibori that have a combined balance of about $34m (plus interests), which nobody has come forward to claim.
Although Ibori, who served jailed term in British prisons between 2012 and 2016, after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering charges at the same court in 2012, also tried hard to cover his tracks. But the prosecutor gave Judge Tomlinson forensic details of how the former governor used proxies and bogus companies to wire millions of pounds across various accounts through which he then funded his lifestyle and those of his family members, including his mistress, Udoamaka Onuigbo.
“Mr. Ibori’s criminal conduct,” according to the crown (state) counsel included using an oil company to deposit £1.2m in an account within two weeks in 2004, and also using Delta State officials to write cheques, which they subsequently cashed and then deposited into accounts linked to him. These monies were later siphoned out of the local accounts to those his associates operated in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.”
Flipping through pages of bundled evidence on the third-floor venue of the hearing, Kinnear disclosed that Ibori also masterminded the payment of $4.7m “for the Johannesburg property.” This, according to the crown counsel, was then used to “pay for the bombardier jet. The prosecutor mentioned another instance when “€460, 000 used to buy a Mercedes Benz came out,” of accounts linked to the former governor. The court also heard how the sums of £120, 000 and £60, 000 were spent in another instance, while Ibori was on the run in Dubai.
Before the judge rose and excluded the press from a 20-minute closed-door session between himself and both sides of the bench, at the instance of the crown prosecutor, Kinnear fingered two other associates of Ibori, through which his unexplained millions were laundered. Addressing the court, he said: “Your honor, the next block of items are items 20 to 25. Accounts in the name of Onuigbo and Christine,” and he told how they served as conduits to move funds through the accounts on behalf of the mastermind, Ibori.
When the hearing resumed for the open sitting at around 11.20 am, Kinnear furthered told the court that “the crown’s case is that Sagicon, one of the major bogus companies that served as his conduits were used to launder Mr. Ibori’s money. The evidence shows.” Besides, “there were huge amounts with little or no explanations. The ladies did his biddings. Fourthly, when these funds came out at the other end, they were for his benefits.”
Continuing with his submission as Ivan Krolick, and the four other members of Ibori’s defence listened, the crown prosecutor said dating back to 2003, a “couple of millions of dollars to Ibori was loose change,” as “he was focusing on bigger things,” including the fraudulent V-mobile shares transaction with the Akwa Ibom State government.
Aside making references to how payments in excess of a million pounds were routed in and out of a bogus trust company account based in the tax haven island of Guernsey in the English channel, off the coast of Normandy, and a meeting he had in May 2004 at the airport there with his frontmen, Kinnear stated that even though “the crown hasn’t been able to establish what it is that Sagicon did, but they have shown that about £8m was routed through Sagicon accounts,” and more importantly, “Sagicon was used for corrupt contracts,” which Ibori orchestrated.
Before wrapping up his submissions, the prosecutor further told the hearing that while it is not surprising that the former governor will want to claw back as much of the confiscated assets as possible, however, in “his latest reply of December 2019, he (Ibori) hasn’t provided evidence of where the funds came from.”
When the judge asked Ibori’s lead counsel how long he thinks his arguments will last, he replied, “l have a lot to put to him over two days.” The asset confiscation hearings continue.
A former Goldman Sachs banker who helped a corrupt Nigerian politician hide a fortune in offshore accounts has been ordered to pay back £7.3m or face 10 years more in jail.
Ellias Preko, 60, used his ‘gold-plated credentials’ to launder at least £3m plundered by James Ibori, the former governor of Africa’s oil-rich Delta State.
Preko, a Ghanaian national and Harvard graduate, used his ‘expertise and veneer of respectability’ to flush the dirty money out of Nigeria.
He was jailed for four and a half years back in 2013 for his role in the scheme.
Judge David Tomlison ordered Preko to pay back £7,324.268.41 following a confiscation hearing.
Preko has three months to repay the money or face another 10 years in jail.
Ibori, a former DIY store cashier prior his rise into politics, was jailed for 13 years in 2012 after he admitted stealing state funds during an eight-year term of office.
The court heard how he pocketed up to £160 million from government treasuries, depriving some of the world’s poorest people of the cash.
Preko, who represented himself, told the court in a previous hearing much of the cash had been spent on election campaigning back in his native Ghana.
He said he had run as candidate for the centre-right NPP party back in the mid-2000s.
Preko explained that Ghana is predominantly a cash based society and that few receipts exist for his campaign spending.
‘Most of the expenses are not receipted,’ he said. ‘Ghanaian political activities are not financed by the state,’ he added.
‘There is a different concept of work there, the difference being everything is cash.
‘Most of the time, people who donate money they donate it to two or more parties and hedge their bets.
‘The candidate himself will want to distribute money to targeted areas for food and clothes.’
Preko told how he had many political contacts in the African nation. His father-in-law who was a former cabinet minister and helped him run for parliament.
‘Unfortunately there was a military coup and the government was overthrown.
‘When I decided that I may want to get involved in politics, my father-in-law introduced me to Prince Audu.’
He explained that the prince had attempted to support candidates who were seen as pro-market modernizers.
‘I used to be on the board of the central bank of Ghana. Prince Audu took interest in my because he was also a former banker.
‘His idea was he wanted to support younger professionals who could go back and help and somehow better things in Africa.
‘I used to go to Prince Audu’s family home in Hampstead off Prince’s Avenue.
‘Along the line, My Lord, I also got involved with fund raising for the party I have been affiliated with since 1996.’
Preko explained that his fundraising skills meant that other candidates would also seek him out.
He told how opposition politicians would tell him they would give him a position: ‘I’ll make you Vice President, I’ll make you a minister,’ Preko said.
‘I spent money to attempt some acceptance because I had been out of the country for so long,’ he said.
One of Christine Ibori-Ibie’s property in Woodhill Crescent, Kenton, Harrow. She was convicted in 2010 for laundering money for her brother James Ibori +3
One of Christine Ibori-Ibie’s property in Woodhill Crescent, Kenton, Harrow. She was convicted in 2010 for laundering money for her brother James Ibori
‘It helps if you spend money because the situation, the economy, is such that people are relatively poor so when you invite them to meetings and you can provide something they will come.
‘It is unfortunate but that is the reality of the ground. I also had to spend money supporting other people running for office.
‘If you go to the grass roots you have to spend money.
‘I gave money to women to build schools, provide scholarships, just to get my name out there.’
Disgraced Ibori, now 60, splashed out on a fleet of luxury motors and blew millions on property in Britain, South Africa and Houston, Texas.
He was in the process of negotiating a purchase on a £12.5m private jet when Scotland Yard detectives caught up with him.
Ibori, of Westover Hill, Hampstead, northwest London, admitted seven counts of fraud and money laundering.
Preko, of St Johns Wood Road, St Johns Wood, northwest London, denied charges but was convicted of money laundering.
Culled From Daily Mail.
Okowa Blew N250m On Reception For Ex-Convict Former Governor James Ibori
Saturday’s Thanksgiving and grand reception for Mr. James Ibori, the former Delta State governor convicted for money laundering, SaharaReporters has learned, cost the government of Delta State N250 million. The event, which held at the Unity Square, Ovwor, Olomu in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state, was fully supported by Mr. Ibori’s protégé and incumbent governor. Mr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
In February 2017, Mr. Okowa approved an expenditure of N350 million for a thanksgiving service and reception in honor of Mr Ibori, who was released from jail in the United Kingdom (UK) in December 2015 after serv ing a 13-year term for corrupt enrichment and money laundering.
Top government sources told SaharaReporters that Saturday’s event, organized by the Mr. John Oguma-headed Urhobo Political Class, was backed by Mr. Okowa as a way of ensuring Mr. Ibori’s support for his second term bid.
“The governor knows he has to please Ibori ahead of the 2019 elections. All the Aso-Ebi used for the event were paid for by the state government. So was the flight that brought the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus, and all the members of the party’s National Working Committee,” said a top government source.
He explained that Mr. Okowa simply used Urhobo Political Class as a facade.
According to the source, the event was conceived by Mr. Oguma, a contractor to the state government and ally of the governor, but was seized by Mr. Okowa.
Another government official told SaharaReporters that apart from the money paid for the chartered flight, a huge sum of money was shared among the entourage of the PDP National Chairman. “Governor Okowa picked the date for the Thanksgiving and reception for Ibori. He also used the opportunity to ensure that the PDP National Chairman could commission a road project in Ughelli,” the source said.
Shortly after receiving Mr. Secondus and members of the NWC, Mr. Okowa took the PDP National Chairman to commission the resurfaced Amekpa/Afiesere/Ofuoma Road in Ughelli North Local Government Area of the state before going to the reception venue.
Speaking at the reception, Mr. Secondus, described Mr. Ibori as a national hero that must be accorded respect.
“Because Ibori has always remembered the poor, the masses, his people, hence God fought for him and brought him back. Ibori must be celebrated because he is a man of the people not just in Delta State, but across the nation. Today, he is a factor in this country. On behalf of the masses of our country, we salute you, we salute your courage because you are a man who believes in the struggle of the party,” said Mr.Secondus.
He added that Mr. Ibori has ensured that Delta is the only state where all the governors that have ruled the state have been produced by the PDP.
Immediate past governor of Delta State and cousin to Mr. Ibori, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, said the event shamed people who bore tales that there was friction between him and his predecessor. Mr. Uduaghan spoke in Urhobo language.
“They are all living in shame now. They were saying my brother is in prison in London and I refused to visit him. If I traveled to London to visit him, how would they know? They expected me to go on radio to announce it anytime I visited him in London. Ibori is our national leader, a worldwide leader and I thank God for his life today. We must stop rumor mongering and sycophancy in this state. I want to thank everyone, including our spiritual fathers who visited Ibori while in London,” Dr. Uduaghan said.
Mr. Okowa spoke in a similarly fawning way. He said Mr. Ibori laid the foundation of development in the state and established a solid political structure.
Responding, Mr. Ibori, said he only went on sabbatical leave. He claimed that God has shamed those who wished him dead. He advised the political class, especially those seeking political offices, not to heat up the polity, saying power belongs to God. (Sahara Reporters)
Inside Ibori`s Propaganda Machine
It made headline news in a number of Nigerian news media, and gave supporters of James Ibori, a former Delta State governor, convicted for money laundering in the UK, something to peddle around; but the report, titled, “Revealed: How top QC ‘buried evidence of Met bribes to put innocent man in jail’” published in the UK’s The Mail on Sunday, October 9, 2016 has now got the fingers of the newspaper’s editors burnt.
A document exclusively obtained indicates that the Independent Press Standards Organisation, IPSO, ruled that The Mail violated Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the organisation’s Editor’s Code of Practice. Titled “Decision of the Complaints Committee 00894-17 Wass v The Mail on Sunday”, it detailed investigations into complaints lodged against the The Mail by Sasha Wass QC, a prosecution counsel. Wass complained that in the story, the newspaper falsely accused her that she “lied to judges in order to hide damning evidence of police corruption” during the appeal hearing of Bhadresh Gohil, challenging his conviction. Gohil, a lawyer to Ibori, was convicted of counts of money laundering and a count of prejudicing money laundering investigation, on November 22, 2010 after “a lengthy trial” before HHJ Hardy and a jury at Southwark Crown Court. He was accused “to have concealed and to have facilitated the laundering of some of Ibori’s fraudulently obtained gains”. In convicting him, the court had relied “on documents, alleged to be fraudulent and/or fictitious, found secreted” in his office. In fact, Gohil on December 6, 2010 “pleaded guilty” to “counts of conspiracy to defraud, and conspiracy to make false instruments”, and was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in jail, with confiscation proceedings instituted, afterwards. In the landmark ruling [Case No: 201206129B4], delivered on July 17, 2014 the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) presided over by Lord Justice Davis, Justice Andrew Smith and HHJ Cooke QC, dismissed in its entirety, the nine grounds of appeal by Gohil seeking to overturn his conviction.
The court dismissed the grounds of appeal that “there was no evidence of any loss to Delta State”, noting that “in the event, Ibori himself had subsequently pleaded guilty” to the charges. The court further ruled that: “There is, in our view, no basis for permitting the applicant to vacate his pleas… We add that the various grounds have no greater force taken cumulatively than they have taken singly…overall these renewed applications seem to us to be singularly lacking in merit.”
But The Mail report had portrayed Gohil as an “innocent man”, wrongfully sent to jail. It had reported that “Gohil had been cleared by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)”, when in fact, such was not the case. The report had also portrayed Wass of “tampering with evidence”, alluding that she “had buried evidence which might have assisted [Gohil’s] defence in a case she had prosecuted”. Miffed that the publication had presented to the public false report, Wass lodged her complaint with the IPSO on February 2. Nineteen days after, the Press Organisation began its investigations into the allegations. And, on July 20, IPSO issued its decision to uphold the complaints, noting that “the court had subsequently dismissed the appeal” of Gohil’s defence on the allegation of police corruption, which the court held “were unfounded”.
The IPSO further held that: “The article had inaccurately reported that despite his conviction for fraud, Mr Gohil had been cleared of wrongdoing by the SRA.” Report of IPSO’s decision after investigations, reads in part: “The newspaper had published significantly inaccurate information and it had failed to comply with the obligations of Clause 1(ii)… As such, the Committee required the publication of an adjudication.” Ten months after publishing the said report, The Mail ate the humble pie and published a retraction – http://www. dailymail.co.uk/home/article-4764454/IPSO-adjudication-upheld-against-MoS-Sasha-Wass-QC. html?ITO=1490
Back to the Wall
The EFCC had partnered with the UK Met Police, to make Ibori answer for charges of money laundering, after Justice Marcel Awokulehin of the Federal High Court, Asaba, Delta State, on December 17, 2009 dismissed the 170 counts of money laundering brought against him in Nigeria. Five years after Ibori pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and related offences of fraud to the tune of £50 million at a UK Southwark Crown Court, February 27, 2012 his case has become a Shakespearean drama with intriguing series. What with his benefactors’ jubilations that greeted his return to Nigeria, February 4, after his release from a UK prison in December [spending about half of his 13-year jail sentence]; his appeal against his conviction; and the campaign of calumny targeted at UK police officers that investigated him.
One of such, published on financialwatchngr.com, November 28, 2016 claimed that the UK had opened “fresh investigation of corrupt policemen involved” in Ibori’s trial. The report credited to a statement by Tony Eluemunor, Ibori’s media aide, had posited that “the latest investigation” was by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Investigations, however, indicate that there was in fact, no such “fresh investigation” and the IPCC was not investigating anything new. Interaction with one of the officers involved in the investigation and prosecution of Ibori, indicates that no such notices, as claimed in the Eluemunor statement, was served on the officers.
The report overreached its propaganda agenda, referring to the officers as being “on active duty while the investigation continued”, when in fact, the reverse was the case as they had long retired from the Police. Matthew Hurding-Jones, who was listed among the officers erroneously reported as being investigated, had changed his name three years before the publication of the report. Further investigation revealed that Lambertus De-Boer referred to as “a lawyer” who made the “revelation” in the statement, is not a lawyer and indeed, pleaded guilty to overwhelming evidence gathered against him in relation to the v-mobile fraud. Allegations of bribery and corruption on part of police officers who investigated Ibori, were actually dismissed in the July 17, 2014 appeal court ruling, as they formed one of the grounds of the appeal. The court ruled that the allegation that Risc Management Limited (RML), a company of private investigators gave bribes to officers in the course of investigation, in exchange of “privileged information”, was “a very grave one”, but “such allegation has in fact already in substance being investigated and rejected”. Moreover, investigation proved the allegation of payment of £20,000 as bribe to police officers to be false. It was established that £11,500 supposedly invoiced by RML was never paid. The remainder was paid to an operative of RML for travel expenses. None ever went into the pocket of any of the officers that investigated Ibori. “It was Gohil who manufactured the documents to make it look like it was paid to a police officer,” one of the investigating officers revealed, explaining that there were two hard drives hidden behind a fireplace in Gohil’s office.
“The mountains of evidence we secured would make your eyes pop out! That’s why Ibori pleaded guilty.” Fighting dirty For the Ibori Team, it is no doubt a fight to the end. Only in May, the Ibori media machine churned out a report, claiming “legal victory” for Ibori, and portraying him as a “victim of persecution”. It alluded to the claim that Ibori secured “victory” against the UK government, and that “Ibori’s human rights had been violated” by Amber Rudd, the UK Home Secretary. No doubt, the “other side of the news”. In actual fact, Rudd had tried to keep Ibori in the UK so that his confiscation hearing could be dealt with. A trial judge had rejected Ibori’s claim for £4,000 in damages, and instead awarded “nominal damages” of £1 for his being kept in custody for an extra 42 hours.
The decision to keep Ibori in immigration detention, the judge opined, was probably because of millions of pounds authorities were yet to recover from him, as against a violation of Ibori’s rights as alluded to by the report. Apparently, Ibori, seems a wounded lion fighting tooth and nail to stall confiscation of his assets in the UK, even as he awaits the hearing of the appeal, which is understood comes up in November. NAN
UK seeks to confiscate James Ibori`s loot
A British prosecutor launched a fresh attempt on Thursday to confiscate tens of millions of pounds stolen from an oil-producing state in Nigeria by its former governor, who was convicted of laundering his loot in Britain.
James Ibori, who was governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering. He received a 13-year jail sentence.
The case was a rare example of a prominent Nigerian politician being punished for his part in the endemic corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous country for decades. Since then, several other Nigerian former state governors have been convicted in their own country.
Having served half of his sentence in pre- and post-trial detention, Ibori was released from jail in December 2016 and is now back in Nigeria.
In 2013, a first attempt was made in Britain to confiscate his assets, but it was aborted after three weeks of hearings because of unresolved legal disputes.
Then the confiscation process was stalled for several years while Ibori and several of his associates, who had been convicted for their roles in laundering his money, appealed unsuccessfully against their convictions.
Restarting the process at Southwark on Thursday, prosecution counsel Jonathan Kinnear began listing assets that Britain seeks to confiscate from Ibori and return to Nigerian public funds.
The total value of the known proceeds of his crimes came to 117 million pounds ($153 million), he said. However, only a portion of that sum is likely to be recoverable.
During his time in office, Ibori, 57, amassed a portfolio of luxury properties in Nigeria, London, Washington, Houston and Johannesburg. He traveled all over the world, staying in the most expensive hotels and spending lavishly in luxury stores.
His lifestyle during those years was a far cry from his modest beginnings in life. As a young man, he had worked as a shop assistant at a branch of the home improvements chain Wickes in London, where he was caught trying to steal from the store and was convicted of theft.
Britain’s National Crime Agency estimates that around 1 billion pounds in dirty money moves into or through the United Kingdom every year. Ibori is one of the only ultimate beneficiaries of such practices to have been convicted.
The case is expected to last around four weeks. (Reuters)