UK returns £4.2m to Nigeria stolen by former governor James Ibori

Ibori was extradited to Britain and jailed for fraud and money laundering in 2012

James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's Delta State, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain. REUTERS/Estelle Shirbon/File Photo
James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's Delta State, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain. REUTERS/Estelle Shirbon/File Photo

Britain returned £4.2 million ($5.9m) to Nigeria years after it was stolen by James Ibori, governor of Nigeria's southern oil-rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007.

He was jailed in Britain for a £50m fraud and money laundering in 2012.

Ibori fled to Dubai and was extradited to the UK to face jail.

The return of the funds came after a landmark corruption case led to a deal in March signed by Nigeria and Britain on repatriating the money.

The deal stipulates that Nigeria will use the funds to finance vital infrastructure projects.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Abubakar Malami confirmed that "the Federal Government of Nigeria received £4,214,017.66".

"The amount has been credited into the designated Federal Government account with naira equivalent value of the amount as of May 10, 2021," spokesman Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said.

Ibori, a one-time cashier at a chain of British DIY stores, used public funds from Nigeria to buy luxury homes, top-of-the-range cars and a private jet.

He fled to Dubai in 2010 but was extradited to Britain, where he was sentenced and served four years of a 13-year jail term. He was released in December 2016.

Scotland Yard said that during his two terms as governor, “Ibori systematically stole funds from the public, secreting them in bank accounts across the world".

Anti-corruption campaigners hailed his sentence as a rare victory in the fight against international corruption.

Millions of dollars stolen by former military ruler Sani Abacha were repatriated to Nigeria from Switzerland and other countries.

Mr Abacha died in June 1998 after reputedly looting more than $5m.

In 2019, former Goldman Sachs investment banker Ellias Nimoh Preko was ordered to pay £7.3 million after he was convicted of laundering money for Ibori.

Preko, a Ghanaian citizen who dealt with West African clients for Goldman Sachs, left the investment bank in 2001 when it refused to act for Ibori “due to suspicions and risk” associated with him, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Preko then started working with Ibori and set up corporate vehicles in which Ibori received $3.9m in funds stolen from Delta State, the NCA said.

Updated: May 19, 2021 05:40 PM

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