Former Delta State governor, James Ibori, opened his case against confiscation on Monday by insisting that he did not profit from the fraud for which he is serving jail term in the United Kingdom.
Ibori, 51, is believed to have personally pocketed £50 million of cash stolen from the Delta State during his eight-year tenure, splashing out millions on luxury homes, a £12.6million private jet, fees at some of the UK’s most expensive boarding schools for his children, first-class travel and exclusive hotels.
Ibori, accused of siphoning £157million of public funds to live a lavish lifestyle, was sentenced to 13 years behind bars in April 2012 after pleading guilty to fraud and money laundering offences.
Lawyers to the former governor, who is due to face a confiscation hearing at Southwark Crown Court, are claiming that he did not make a single penny from the £157million fraud.
The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday that applying to have confiscation proceedings thrown out, Ivan Krolick, defending, said Ibori’s pleas of guilt were not an admission that he personally profited from the scam.
“The court heard if the full confiscation hearing does go ahead under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the fraudster may only be ordered to pay back £330,000,” the report said.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said: ‘The handling of the money itself gave rise to the crime so the benefit of the crime in the context of this case would be the same thing.
‘It gives rise to the proceeds of crime.
‘The Crown has been taken wholly by surprise that Mr Krolick should address the court and say that there was no evidence in effect that Mr Ibori benefited’.
The jailed governor is also said to own a £600,000 fleet of armoured Range Rovers, a £120,000 Bentley and a £340,000 Mercedes Maybach that was shipped direct to his £3.2million mansion in Johannesburg.
He also sold £23million of state-owned shares in telecoms company Vee Mobile to fund a lavish lifestyle, including £125,000 monthly credit card bills while his people languished in poverty.
Ibori moved to the UK in the 1980s where he married his wife, Theresa, and worked as a cashier at Wickes in Ruislip, Middlesex.
In 1990 the pair were convicted of stealing goods from the store and fined £300. A year later Ibori was fined £100 for handling a stolen credit card before he moved back to his homeland.
Ibori was elected as governor of Delta State in 1999 after tricking his way into power by hiding details of his previous convictions in the UK for theft and changing his age.
In 2003, he was re-elected as governor for another four year term, after failing to disclose his previous convictions and financial status.
During that time he systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world.
His methods included the inflation of State contracts, kickbacks and the transfer of cash from the State accounts by unscrupulous employees in his inner circle.
In one instance he rigged the tendering process for state contracts in cahoots with his mistress Udoumaka Okoronkwo, who would be due to face confiscation proceedings alongside Ibori.
The couple used Okoronkwo’s companies Sagicon, Rivbbed and Saagaris – the latter of which their four-month old love-child was named as a director of – to ‘bid’ for inflated deals to provide items to the state including china and vehicles.
The money was then channelled out of Nigeria before it was laundered through a series of off-shore trusts and companies.
Ibori was also helped to steal the cash by his wife Theresa, sister Christine Ibori-Ibie, and a series of corrupt professionals – UK London based lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, fiduciary agent Daniel Benedict McCann and corporate financier, Lambertus De Boer.