These are not the best of times for former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, as a UK judge has ordered his defence lawyer and accomplice, Bhadresh Gohil, to return £28 million to law enforcers or serve another prison term of 6 years.
The London solicitor, reportedly has a massive £3.25 million home in Sydney Street in Chelsea, UK, and was accused by law enforcers of playing a big role in a huge scam perpetrated by Ibori, which landed the once powerful Nigerian politician in UK jail….CONTINUE READING
Ibori was extradited from his hiding place in Dubai, the UAE, and sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2012 alongside his wife and sister who served different jail terms.
He was in the past week ordered to surrender over £100 million to law enforcers or serve another 10 years in jail.
After his freedom, he left the UK to Nigeria where he has been trying to relaunch his political career that has seen his daughter and some of his political supporters contesting for elective positions.
His anointed candidate and former chief of staff, David Edevbie, lost the PDP governorship ticket in Delta.
He joined former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to receive then president-elect Bola Tinubu in Rivers State in May and has also been received at the presidential villa, Nigeria’s seat of power.
Ibori claimed the latest court episode was deliberate and vowed to appeal but did not deny the offences he was convicted of. He’s contesting the amount he’s expected to pay back.
He refused to attend the hearing which was concluded last week where the judge ordered he refunds laundered public funds.
Gohil, who reports said grew up to become a strong Ibori associate, is an Indian and had served 10 years for his criminal dealings in Ibori’s case.
The solicitor who was described as being “poor” before meeting Ibori, whom he defended until both landed in jail is reportedly an owner of another palatial empire in Mumbai, India and another property close to the India city, as well as other assets worth millions of pounds, all considered proceeds of crime from Nigeria.
He has millions in investments in India and was a regular visitor to Ibori’s mansion in Hampstead, the UK, court told.
But Gohil would now surrender the ill-gotten wealth or face fresh prison term after a judge at Southwark Crown Court delivered a confiscation order that he surrenders a whopping £28.19 million.
The latest ruling has been hailed across the UK especially by anti-corruption campaigners who have moved against organised crime, Evening Standard has reported.
It “sends a powerful message that those who conspire with corrupt political elites will be held to account” after “the extraordinary lengths to which Gohil has gone to keep hold of his ill-gotten gains,” Dr Helen Taylor, from Spotlight on Corruption, told journalists.
“This confiscation order is a significant milestone in these marathon legal proceedings to recover the vast sums of public money that were stolen from the Nigerian people,” she added.
THE WHISTLER findings showed that the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency have so far secured a £101 million confiscation order against Ibori and his accomplice.
Also the court secured a £2.8 million confiscation order against his ally Udoamaka Onuigbo.
Gohil, convicted in 2010 of money laundering, was accused of concealing ill-gotten money from Ibori in “a myriad of offshore companies and bank accounts as well as UK-based entities.”
Ibori who once contested his name as Jame Ibori and not James Onanefe Ibori, which he said was the name of his twin brother was found wanting by the crown court for making £118 million, public funds, which he financed “a high-living lifestyle,” with Gohil making £42 million from Ibori.
Suzanne Foster, the head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s proceeds of crime division, said the millions of pounds obtained through the confiscation orders would eventually be sent back to Nigeria to be invested in public services there, it was reported.
“This very significant amount of money was confiscated following an extensive investigation. Ibori was powerful and influential, but he was not above the law. Now the life he built from criminal enterprises has been taken from him,” Foster said, hailing the court ruling.
“This confiscation order demonstrates our determination to pursue criminally obtained assets that have been invested in the UK.
“Our work to repatriate these sums shows that we do not stop at the point of conviction, and the NCA will do everything we can to strip criminals of their assets.
“We will continue to work with partners to tackle the global threat of money laundering, and target anyone that undermines the integrity of our financial system,” Foster added….CONTINUE READING