Orders for James Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil to repay millions

July 27, 2023
[caption id="attachment_1032" align="alignleft" width="962"]James Ibori has been ordered to pay millions after criminal gains as a politician (Image: PA) James Ibori has been ordered to pay millions after criminal gains as a politician (Image: PA)[/caption] A dishonest former Nigerian politician and his friends were forced to repay £130 million after diverting millions to buy opulent homes and cars in London. After a career that saw him go from minor criminality in north London to a property empire in north London, Washington, DC, and Texas, as well as a Mercedes and a Bentley, James Ibori, 61, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2012. Concealing a 1990 conviction for stealing from the Neasden Wickes where he worked as a cashier, he was twice elected as governor of Delta State, becoming a senior figure in the regime of President Sani Abacha. His governor’s annual salary was less than $25,000, but he siphoned off public money through a network of bankers, solicitors, family and friends, using offshore accounts. Ibori, 49, used the money to buy a flat in Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, a £390,000 flat in Westbourne Green, a £2.2 million Hampstead luxury home in Westover Hill, Hampstead, and a £3 million mansion in South Africa. He was jailed for 13 years in February 2012 after pleading guilty to a string of offences relating to a conspiracy to defraud nearly £50 million from Nigerian states. After he was jailed the National Crime Agency started confiscation proceedings and found Ibori had benefited from almost £116 million. In one of the largest ever confiscation orders in the UK, a judge at Southwark Crown Court has now ordered him to repay £101,514,315. He could face eight more years in jail if he does not pay the money back. The Metropolitan Police first began to investigate into Ibori in 2005, after allegations of corruption and theft of state funds during his time as governor. Money was also found to have been laundered by Ibori’s UK solicitor, Badresh Babulal Gohil, through offshore companies and bank accounts. London-based Gohil, was also jailed for 10 years in 2010 after being convicted of fraud and money laundering offences. He was found to have benefited by more than £42,424,037 from his criminal activity, and the judge ordered him to repay £28,191,787. Gohil has six months to repay or face a further six years' imprisonment. A woman linked to Ibori’s business dealings, Udoamaka Onuigbo, was convicted of money laundering offences in 2010. She was now found to benefit more than £10.2 million and was ordered to pay £2,649,959. NCA Branch Commander Suzanne Foster said: “This very significant amount of money was confiscated following an extensive investigation. Ibori was powerful and influential, but he was not above the law. Now the life he built from criminal enterprises has been taken from him. “This confiscation order demonstrates our determination to pursue criminally obtained assets that have been invested in the UK. Ibori’s funds will be returned to the Nigerian government where they will be reinvested into public services.” These confiscation orders follow two already granted for Ibori’s associates. Elias Preko, a financial advisor to Ibori who was convicted of money laundering in 2013, was ordered to pay £7.3 million in 2019 or face a further 10 years in prison as part of the NCA’s financial investigation. Rowland Nakanda, Ibori’s children’s uncle, was convicted of money laundering in June 2015. Nakanda benefited from £683,641.94, and was ordered to pay almost £143,000 or face a further 12 months imprisonment.