Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dubai set to extradite Ibori


Authorities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday said they were ready to extradite former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, after a British court convicted two of his associates for laundering $20 million on behalf of Ibori.

Daily Champion gathered that the Dubai Police had already written to its United Kingdom (UK) counterpart, asking it to make available relevant documents in the Ibori case.

Ibori's sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie, and an associate, Udoamaka Onuigbo Okoronkwo were each convicted by a jury on three counts of money-laundering at Southwark Crown Court in London on Tuesday, a court official said yesterday.

The indictment named Ibori as the source and beneficiary of the cash.

The case complicates affairs for the former governor who was arrested last month in Dubai on an Interpol warrant.

"The defendants laundered more than 14 million pounds for James Ibori ... They were deeply involved in his life and financial dealings," said David Williams, reviewing lawyer for the British Crown Prosecution Service's central fraud group.

"This was not a victimless crime. The theft of this money meant Nigerian citizens were effectively robbed of the services they were rightly entitled to expect and their lives left poorer as a consequence," he said in a statement.

The offences took place from 1999 to 2007, the period when Ibori was governor of Delta, one of three major oil-producing states in the impoverished Niger Delta.

The jury also found Ibori-Ibie guilty of five charges of obtaining or attempting to obtain property transfers by deceit.

The indictment said she had dishonestly obtained mortgages to buy properties in and around London, presenting herself on different occasions as oil and gas executive, import-export agent, interior decorator and children's wear merchant.

It will be recalled that authorities in Dubai said on May 13 that Ibori had been released from custody, but his passport had been seized. Police said they were expecting his case file to be sent from London.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said it would "continue to pursue those involved in Ibori's criminal conduct", starting with another trial of three of his associates scheduled to begin on June 14. One of the defendants in that trial will be Theresa Ibori, the politician's wife.

A successful prosecution of Ibori at home or abroad, would be seen as a huge victory in the fight against corruption by President Goodluck Jonathan.

A British court froze $35 million of Ibori's assets in August 2007 on suspicion they were the proceeds of corruption.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) tried to arrest Ibori last month, before his Dubai trip, to question him over allegations that N44 billion ($290 million) was looted from Delta State government coffers during his time in office.

But a crowd of militants prevented police from arresting him in his hometown in Oghara.

Daily Champion

Related stories: Ibori's sister convicted in london for money laundering

Video interview with James Ibori about corruption charges

Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria

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