Ibori’s slippery route: From store cashier to international playboy

Channels Television  
Updated February 29, 2012

The Daily Mail of London exposes the massive wealth of former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who on Monday pleaded guilty to a 10-count of money laundering and conspiracy before a Southwark Crown Court in London.

His rise from DIY store worker to international playboy with a £250 million fortune is the stuff of dreams.

A few years after quitting his £5,000-a-year job as a cashier for Wickes, James Ibori had become one of Nigeria’s most influential and richest politicians.

He wasted no time spending his new-found wealth on luxury homes, top-of-the-range cars, five-star travel and fees at exclusive boarding schools.

But on Monday the 49-year-old stood shame-faced in the dock of London’s Southwark Court as he admitted stealing tens of millions of pounds from the oil-rich state he governed in Nigeria. Scotland Yard detectives believe his fraud could exceed £250million.

Police investigation into Mr Ibori’s activities revealed that the former Delta state governor is in possession of the following assets:

1. A six-bedroom house with indoor pool in Hampstead worth £2.2million;

2. A flat opposite the nearby Abbey Road recording studios;

3. A property in Dorset, a £3.2million mansion in South Africa;

4. Abuja Mansions;

5. Mayflower Lodge: One of Udoamaka Onuigbo’s (Mr Ibori’s associate) London properties;

6. Kingfisher Way: One of Ms Onuigbo’s London properties;

7. Ms Onuigbo’s luxury house in Lagos;

8. Woodhill Crescent, Kenton: One of Christine Ibori-Ibie’s (Mr Ibori’s Sister) London properties;

9. Uphill Drive: One of Mrs Ibori-Ibie’s London properties;

10. A fleet of armoured Range Rovers costing £600,000 and a £120,000 Bentley;

11. A Mercedes Maybach worth more than £300,000 which he bought at a dealer on Park Lane and immediately shipped to South Africa; and

12. A £12 million private jet.

The investigation also found out that the Mr Ibori spends up to £126,000 a month on his credit cards and ran up a £15,000 bill for a two-day stay at the Lanesborough hotel in London.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court that Mr Ibori concealed his UK criminal record, which would have excluded him from office in Nigeria.
“He was never the legitimate governor and there was effectively a thief in government house,” Miss Wass said. “As the pretender of that public office, he was able to plunder Delta State’s wealth and hand out patronage.”

According to the prosecutor, Mr Ibori abused his position to award contracts to his associates including his sister and his mistress.
Scotland Yard began its investigation into Mr Ibori activities after officers found two computer hard drives in his London office that revealed his criminality.

He was arrested by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in December 2007, but two years later a court in his home town, Asaba, dismissed the charges saying there was not enough evidence.

When the case was reopened by Nigerian authorities in April 2010, Ibori fled to Dubai where he was detained at the request of the Metropolitan Police and extradited to the UK last April.

In a packed courtroom Ibori, dressed in a dark grey suit and black shirt, appeared in the dock to enter ten guilty pleas to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy on what was due to be the first day of a 12-week trial.

His wife, his mistress and his sister were all jailed for five years each for money laundering offences following earlier trials.

Last March, Gohil, 46, and described as Ibori’s London-based lawyer, was jailed for seven years for his role in the scam.

Attempts will be made to confiscate as much of Ibori’s money and assets as possible so that they can be returned to Nigeria.

The Met’s Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore said: “It is always rewarding for anyone working on a proceeds of corruption case to know that the stolen funds they identify will eventually be returned to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

Ibori will be sentenced on April 16 and 17.