James Ibori could be made to return millions he took from the people of Nigeria (Picture: Reuters) A former Nigerian governor who lived like a king has been told he may have to pay back £117 million he scammed from some of the world’s poorest people.
James Ibori, 61, was jailed for 13 years in 2012 but has still not returned a single penny. However, he was released in December 2016 and is back in Nigeria, but is facing a proceeds of crime hearing at Southwark Crown Court. He spent millions of luxury homes, a £12.6 million private jet, boarding school fees for his children, first class travel and exclusive hotels.
He also owned a £600,000 fleet of Range Rovers, a £120,000 Bentley and a £340,000 Mercedes Maybach. He rigged state contracts with the help of his wife, mistress, sister and other corrupt officials.
A Bentley that was owned by the fraudster (Picture: Central) He moved to the UK in the 80s where he married Theresa and worked as a cashier earning £5,000 a year at Wickes in Ruislip Middlesex. They stole from the shop and were fined £300 in 1990. Within 20 years, and after a meteoric rise to power, he became a consultant for Nigeria’s president Sani Abacha before becoming a state governor.
He hid his convictions in the UK for theft and changing his age so that he could be elected, all the while stealing funds from the public purse and secreting them in bank accounts across the planet. His methods included the inflation of state contracts, kickbacks and the transfer of cash from the taxpayer.
Ibori moved to the UK in the 80s where he earned 5,000 a year at Wickes (Picture: PA) James Ibori’s wife Theresa was also convicted of money laundering (Picture: PA) Prosecutor Jonathan Kinnear, QC said: ‘Within a very short time of being elected he came into possession of a huge sum of money, there is a great deal of documentary evidence that proves has a large amount of money.
‘There is no explanation of the source of the wealth that was not obtained corruptly. ‘His case now really involves going behind all these statements he made and saying the money was for other purposes.
‘This was the plundering of funds from that state using multiple people, solicitors and jurisdictions.’ Ibori’s wife Theresa, mistress Onuigbo and sister Christine Christine Ibori-Idie were jailed for five years each in 2012 for money laundering offences.
Former Goldman Sachs banker Ellias Preko was given a four-and-a-half year sentence in 2013 for laundering Ibori’s dirty cash. Preko, 60, was ordered to pay back £7.3m or face a decade more in prison last September. The confiscation hearing continues.