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Former Goldman Sachs banker helped Ibori launder loot – Prosecutor

Channels Television  
Updated March 16, 2012

Prosecutors in the United Kingdom on Thursday accused a former Goldman Sachs banker from St John’s Wood, Ellias Preko, 52, of helping former governor of Delta state, James Ibori set up a web of offshore trusts and companies to launder the cash.

Prosecutors said the Harvard graduate banker abused his “gold-plated credentials” to conceal Mr Ibori’s “dirty money”.

Mr Ibori had last month pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud and money laundering after police claimed he stole £160million during his eight-year term in office.

The Prosecutor told a Southwark crown court that Mr Preko used his connections and reputation to “unlock financial doors” and “sidestep regulations” to help siphon off £4m of Ibori’s fortune.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass said that Mr Preko, who was Goldman Sachs’ executive director for private clients in Sub-Saharan Africa, first met Mr Ibori in 1997.

It is alleged he created a series of Guernsey-based trusts and shell companies for Mr Ibori before leaving Goldman Sachs in 2001.
The prosecutor said Mr Preko walked away with many of the bank’s West African clients, who the she described as “clients that Goldman Sachs were not prepared to touch”.

Ms Wass told the court that Ibori siphoned millions out of the Delta State by rigging the tendering process for state contracts and awarding contracts to his mistress.

He amassed a wealth of “enormous proportions” with which he bought properties in the UK, South Africa and the US.

He was negotiating to buy a £12.5million private jet when Scotland Yard detectives caught him.

Mr Ibori will be sentenced on April 16.

However, Mr Preko denies three counts of money laundering and two counts of forgery.

Goldman Sachs’ declining reputation

Goldman Sachs reputation of assisting corrupt clients to launder their dirty money was on Wednesday explained in an op-ed by a former Vice President of the bank, Greg Smith which was published in the US most famous newspaper, The New York Times.

In the article titled “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” Mr Smith’s diatribe declared Goldman’s environment to be “as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”

He said the management of the bank allows “the interests of the client… to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money.”

Though the bank gave a statement in response to its former employee’s article saying that the former Vice President is disgruntled and “merely one of 1,200 Vice Presidents” of the bank, it did not deny the accusation of corruption.