UK renews bid to seize £117m Ibori loot

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A British prosecutor on Thursday launched a fresh attempt to confiscate millions of pounds stolen by a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who was convicted of money laundering and graft in Britain.

About £117m known proceeds of crime is being targeted but only a portion of the sum was likely to be recoverable.

The case, according to Reuters, is expected to last around four weeks.

Ibori, who was governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison but was released in December 2016 and is back in Nigeria.

Reuters reported that the prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, began listing assets that Britain seeks to confiscate from Ibori and return to Nigeria at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

 In 2013, a first attempt was made in Britain to confiscate Ibori’s assets, but it was aborted after three weeks of hearings because of unresolved legal disputes.

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The confiscation process was stalled for several years while Ibori and several of his associates, who have been convicted based on their roles in the money laundering, appealed unsuccessfully against their conviction.

During his time in office, Ibori, 57, amassed a portfolio of luxury properties in Nigeria, London, Washington, Houston and Johannesburg.

Reuters reported that the ex-governor’s lifestyle during those years was a far cry from his modest beginnings in life.

Britain’s National Crime Agency estimates that around £1bn in dirty money moves into or through the United Kingdom every year.

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