James Ibori Loses Appeal Against UK Graft Conviction
James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State who was jailed in Britain for laundering tens of millions of dollars in stolen public funds through British banks and properties lost an appeal against his conviction in London today.
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 stem the flow of dirty money from overseas through London.
Ibori, who in his heyday 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 received a 13-year jail sentence of which he served half, as is common in the British system, and is now back in Nigeria.
Anti-corruption campaigners had hailed the case as a milestone for Nigeria, where 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 has been dragging through the courts.
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