Despite serving jail time for corruption in the United Kingdom, the troubles of former Delta State Governor, James Ibori are far from over,
Now a London High Court has ordered the forfeiture of $130m. On Friday, Judge David Tomlinson of the Southwark Crown Court, gave the immediate forfeiture order or an eight year jail term for the embattled former governor.
The order elicited an immediate response from Ibori who is now in Nigeria. He released a statement in which he said “The next steps will be to take my fight for justice to the highest courts in the UK”.
Corruption and Legal Troubles
Recall that Ibori was extradited from Dubai to the United Kingdom in 2011 to face corruption and money laundering charges in 2011. He had made his way from Nigeria after his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for corruption. He subsequently pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering in London, and was slammed with a 13 year jail sentence but only served half and was released.
The United Kingdom has been criticized for becoming a haven for corrupt and politically exposed persons who indulge in money laundering of looted funds from their countries. Analysts have pointed out a direct connection between escalating property prices in the United Kingdom, and corruptly laundered funds which are used to buy massive mansions which are unoccupied for lengthy periods yearly.
James Ibori is currently in Nigeria, and has been hosted by the newly inaugurated President, Bola Tinubu, twice at the Presidential Villa. The optics of that move has certainly come under criticism from many quarters. Both men were state governors during same period of 1999 – 2007, so there is some history and affinity.
President Bola Tinubu’s son, Seyi has also been fingered in a corrupt deal involving purchase of $11m mansion in London. That investigation was carried out by Bloomberg.
The forfeiture order of $130m has been recorded as one of the highest for a money laundering case in the United Kingdom. However, it is common knowledge that many politicians in Nigeria have made the United Kingdom their number base for laundering looted funds. The Ibori case is just one that has been highlighted.
The standard practice for such forfeitures is to return the seized assets to the home country. It now unclear how such a return would take place, given the closeness of James Ibori with the current occupant of the Presidential Villa.