James Ibori Loses Case Against Money Laundering Conviction In UK
James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State who was convicted in 2012 in the UK for laundering tens of millions of pounds in stolen public funds through British banks and properties lost an appeal against his conviction in London.
The Court of Appeal’s ruling against the Nigerian politician is a relief for the British authorities at a time when they are trying to clean up the mess posed by the flow of dirty money from overseas through British banks.
Ibori, who in his prime days was one of Nigeria’s richest and most powerful men, pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering involving sums amounting to at least 50 million pounds ($66 million).
He was sentenced to 13-years in prison of which he served half, as is common in the British system, he was released and is now back in Nigeria.
Anti-corruption campaigners had seen it as a victory and lesson for others since no one of his stature had been successfully prosecuted, and for its former colonial ruler Britain, long seen as too complacent about the proceeds of Nigerian corruption being laundered in the UK.
Ibori owned multi-million-pound homes in Britain, South Africa and United States, including an English country house near the private school where his children were being educated. He also owned a Jaguar and a Bentley and was buying a $20-million private jet at the time of his arrest.
Wednesday’s ruling will allow Britain to resume efforts to confiscate millions of dollars’ worth of assets and return them to Nigerian public coffers. The assets have been frozen for years while the case was being dragged through the courts.