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Attempts to overturn corruption conviction by Former Nigerian Governor an “affront to justice”

London, 3rd February 2017 Moves to overturn a landmark UK legal ruling sentencing a former Nigerian Governor to 13 years in prison are an affront to justice, say Transparency International UK.

James Ibori, former Governor of Nigeria’s Delta province, was sentenced in 2012 for several offences, including the laundering of tens of millions of pounds of stolen public funds.  Experts believe this represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of the money he misappropriated.  Ibori’s is one of the very few UK convictions for high-level corruption and money laundering despite law enforcement agencies estimating that billions of pounds of illicit wealth is moved each year through the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, with luxury London property a favoured destination.

Ibori was released from prison in December 2016, only four years after being sentenced to 13 years, and is now seeking to appeal against his conviction partly on the grounds that, as he claims, law enforcement officers working on the case were themselves taking bribes.

Robert Barrington, Transparency International UK Executive Director, said:

“James Ibori enjoyed an extravagant and lavish lifestyle in the UK with money that was stolen from the Nigerian people, depriving them of vital resources that should have been invested in health, education and other public services.  The consequences of such corruption in Nigeria have been devastating, not least in fuelling conflicts and insecurity which have seen thousands of innocent people killed, kidnapped and brutalised. Ibori is a convicted criminal with an overwhelming weight of evidence against him, and attempts to appeal his conviction are an affront to justice and the victims of his corrupt activities.”

“Under the UK’s current system, Ibori is able to use the money he stole to fund this new appeal and the continued protection of the assets that are under investigation, employing top lawyers with the stolen funds to try and  rehabilitate his reputation. This raises important questions about how well equipped the UK is to deal with corrupt individuals from overseas trying to use the UK as a safety deposit box.”

“Ibori claims that the police who investigated him were themselves corrupt.  All allegations of corruption against the police force must be taken with the utmost seriousness and independently investigated, and those found guilty should be held accountable. But this should have no bearing on the guilt of an individual who amassed an astonishing personal fortune, whilst his notional official salary as a state governor would typically have been no more than $25,000 annually. Attempts to mask his own corrupt dealings by highlighting corruption elsewhere must not be allowed to prevail.”

“Despite London being a prime target for the laundering of stolen wealth, James Ibori remains one of the few individuals to be found guilty. The fact that he can even consider an appeal given the overwhelming weight of evidence against him shows that law enforcement agencies, strongly supported by the government, must use every available means to fight corruption, and if the current set-up is not fit for purpose, the government should upgrade it.  This case underlines the urgent need for new legal powers to target illicit wealth, such as Unexplained Wealth Orders, currently being debated in Parliament as part of the Criminal Finances Bill.”

***ENDS***

 

Notes:

James Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in prison at Southwark Crown Court, in 2012. He was found guilty of the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to defraud
  • Dishonestly obtaining property by deception
  • Money laundering (7 counts)
  • Conspiracy to launder money
  • Forgery – making a false instrument, with the intention to induce somebody to accept it as genuine

Contact
Dominic Kavakeb
T: 0207 3096 7695
M: 079 6456 0340
E: dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk

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Read 143 times Last modified on Saturday, 4 February 2017 11:00

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