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Thursday, April 10, 2014

James Ibori may not return a dime of the money he stole as governor

The former Wickes cashier blew millions on luxury homes, a £12.6million private jet, fees at some of the UK's most expensive boarding schools for his children and exclusive hotels
A former Wickes cashier who became a Nigerian state governor and defrauded £157million of public funds to live a lavish lifestyle may not have to pay a single penny back.
James Ibori, 51, is said to have personally pocketed £50million of cash stolen from the west African nation’s oil-rich Delta State during his eight-year tenure.
The former £5,000-a-year Wickes cashier blew millions on luxury homes, a £12.6million private jet, fees at some of the UK’s most expensive boarding schools for his children, first-class travel and exclusive hotels.
He owned a £600,000 fleet of armoured Range Rovers, a £120,000 Bentley and a £340,000 Mercedes Maybach that was shipped direct to his £3.2million mansion in Johannesburg. continue...

Described as one of Nigeria’s most influential and wealthy politicians, Ibori rigged lucrative state contracts with the help of his wife, mistress, sister, and an inner circle of corrupt officials and lifted money straight out of state funds.
He also sold £23million of state-owned shares in telecoms company Vee Mobile to fund a lavish lifestyle, including £125,000 monthly credit card bills while his people languished in poverty
Ibori, who now lives in Hampstead, north west London, was sentenced to 13 years behind bars in April 2012 after admitting a raft of fraud and money laundering offences.
He is due to face a confiscation hearing at Southwark Crown Court but it was claimed today that he did not make a single penny from the £157million fraud.
Applying to have confiscation proceedings thrown out, Ivan Krolick, defending, said Ibori’s pleas of guilt were not an admission that he personally profited from the scam.
The court heard if the full confiscation hearing does go ahead under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the fraudster may only be ordered to pay back £330,000.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said: ‘The handling of the money itself gave rise to the crime so the benefit of the crime in the context of this case would be the same thing.
‘It gives rise to the proceeds of crime.
‘The Crown has been taken wholly by surprise that Mr Krolick should address the court and say that there was no evidence in effect that Mr Ibori benefited’.
Nigerian-born Ibori moved to the UK in the 1980s where he married his wife, Theresa, and worked as a cashier at Wickes in Ruislip, Middlesex.
In 1990 the pair were convicted of stealing goods from the store and fined £300. A year later Ibori was fined £100 for handling a stolen credit card before he moved back to his homeland.
Ibori was elected as governor of Delta State in 1999 after tricking his way into power by hiding details of his previous convictions in the UK for theft and changing his age.

In 2003, he was re-elected as governor for another four year term, after failing to disclose his previous convictions and financial status.

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