James Ibori loses appeal against UK fraud conviction

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James Ibori, a former Delta State governor who was jailed in Britain for laundering tens of millions of dollars in stolen public funds through British banks and properties, lost an appeal against his conviction in London on Wednesday.

Ibori, who in his heyday was one of Nigeria’s most powerful men, pleaded guilty in a London court in 2012, to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering involving sums amounting to at least $66 million.

He received a 13-year jail sentence of which he served half, as is common in the British system. Despite his guilty pleas, appealed against his conviction alleging that one of the London police officers who had investigated him, was himself corrupt and that the prosecution had covered that up.

Three senior appeal judges said the corruption of the police officer was not proven, but in any case it was irrelevant to Ibori’s conviction because if it had happened, he had instigated it.

The ruling will allow British prosecutors to resume efforts to confiscate tens of millions of dollars’ worth of assets and return them to Nigerian public coffers. The assets have been frozen for years while the case has been dragging through the courts.

During his eight years in office, Ibori enjoyed a jet-setting lifestyle, buying multi-million dollar properties in England, South Africa and the United States as well as a Bentley, a Jaguar and other luxury cars. At the time of his arrest, he was in the process of buying a $20-million Bombardier private jet.

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