Former Goldman Sachs banker helped Ibori launder loot – Prosecutor

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.

Court frees Gbenga Daniel of all corruption charges

The former governor of Ogun state, Olugbenga Daniel has been discharged of all 43 count charge of financial appropriation filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) at the Ogun state High Court.

The presiding judge, Justice Olanrewaju Mabekoje during his ruling on Friday said that the EFCC failed to seek the prayer of the court “before filling the information that contained the indictable offences proffered against the defendant.”

Justice Mabekoje, giving his judgement noted that the EFCC as a prosecuting agency committed a “fundamental error for not seeking the leave of the court before filling the charges containing the indictable offences.”

The former governor is standing trial for financial impropriety during his two year term as the governor of Ogun state from 2003 to 2011.

Mr Daniel is accused of stealing, fraudulent conversion of local government funds, failure to declare assets and conversion of state government landed property for personal use.

Counsel to the defendant, Profesor Taiwo Osipitan described the judgement as a welcome development while Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs stated that it was a temporary setback, adding that “the EFCC would soon approach the court once again to put the records straight and follow due process.”

The embattled former governor was full of praises to God while reacting to the judgement. His supporters were present at the court premises and they all danced and cheered to the ruling.

EFCC arraigns Lagos Assembly Speaker for laundering N501 million

After prolonged delays, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today arraigned the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji at the Federal High Court, Lagos on 20 count charge of money laundering.

The anti-graft agency alleges that the Speaker used his position to launder over N500 million of the Lagos State House of Assembly funds.

At today’s hearing the Speaker Ikuforiji was arraigned alongside his Personal Assistant, Mr Oyebode Alade Atoyebi on an amended twenty-count charge of laundering over N501 million.

According to the charge sheet the EFCC alleged that Hon Ikuforiji and Mr Atoyebi conspired among themselves between April 2010 and July 2011 to “do an illegal act by accepting various cash payments from the State Assembly without going through a financial institution.”

Both men pleaded not guilty to the allegations after which their counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) asked the court for bail on self-recognition, because the Speaker is the “third citizen in Lagos State” and the other being “an aide to the Speaker.”

The EFCC did not oppose the bail applications but however urged the Court to impose bail conditions on the bail to be granted to his aide.

The Presiding judge Justice Okechukwu Okeke, granted the bail on self-recognition adjourned to the 26 & 27th of March.

The Speaker was initially scheduled to be arraigned on the 30th of January after weeks of failing to appear in court despite an arrest warrant.

The order was, however, discharged by the then presiding Judge, Justice John Soho on December 15, 2011, when the Speaker voluntarily came to court.

Justice John Soho subsequently withdrew from the case.

Counsel to the Speaker, had explained their absence in court was due to their not being served with the court proceeding by the EFCC to the effect that they should appear in court.

 

Corruption in NNPC is ‘imaginary’ – Group MD

The Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Austin Oniwon on Monday said corruption within the NNPC was overblown, casting doubt on whether the firm intends to tackle what several reports have highlighted as a major problem.
Numerous reports and audits have said graft is rife within NNPC. Transparency International and Revenue Watch last year ranked it as the least transparent oil company in the world.
“I think NNPC corruption is blown out of proportion. Corruption in NNPC is in the imagination of some people,” Mr Oniwon said at the opening of an oil and gas conference in Abuja.
Last month, the government ordered an audit of its entire oil and gas sector following a week of anti-government protests. The anti-corruption watchdog also began an investigation into the sector and the Senate opened a separate probe into fuel subsidies, all within a week.
Sceptics say the Nigerian government has invited auditors into its oil and gas sector before — and failed to act on their reports.
A report compiled by international accounting firm KPMG into the state oil company has been on the oil minister’s desk for a year, but no action has been taken on it yet.
“No one in NNPC has ever been charged,” Mr Oniwon said, suggesting that this showed corruption is not a major issue.

SERAP Sues FG Over Recovered Funds

SERAP to take Federal Government to Court

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has dragged the Federal Government to court over “alleged failure to release information and documents on the spending of recovered stolen funds.” According to a statement signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni

The suit filed last week at the Federal High Court Ikeja followed a Freedom of Information request to the Accountant General of the Federation dated 26 September 2011.

The motion exparte with suit number FHC/IKJ/CS/248/2011 was brought pursuant to section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act, and Order 34 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009, and signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni.

The plaintiff is arguing that under the FOI Act, it has the right to request for or gain access to information which is in the custody or possession of any public official, agency or institution.

The suit is seeking an order “granting leave to the Plaintiff/Applicant to apply for judicial relief and to seek an order of mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents whether by themselves and/or their agents to disclose to and or make available to the Applicant the information requested as contained in a letter dated 26 September 2011 to the Accountant General of the Federation.”

According to the plaintiff, “the disclosure of the information requested will give the general public a true picture and a clear understanding of how the spending of recovered public stolen funds have impacted on the lives of the poor and indigent and other disadvantaged Nigerians.”

The organization is also seeking the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the failure and/or refusal of the Respondents to individually and/or collectively disclose detailed information about the spending of recovered stolen public funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999, and to publish widely such information, including on a dedicated website, amounts to a breach of the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability and violates Articles 9, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act
  • A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the 1st Defendant/Respondent is under a binding legal obligation to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds, including:
    • Detailed information on the total amount of recovered stolen public assets that have so far been recovered by Nigeria
    • The amount that has been spent from the recovered stolen public assets and the objects of such spending
    • Details of projects on which recovered stolen public assets were spent
  • An order of mandamus directing and or compelling the Defendants/Respondents to provide the Plaintiff/Applicant with up to date information on recovered stolen funds since the return of civilian rule in 1999.

No date has however been fixed for the hearing of the application.