Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ibori's sister convicted in london for money laundering

After months of legal battle, a 12-member jury deliberating on the money laundering trial of associates of the former Delta State governor, Mr. James Ibori, yesterday convicted his sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie on all charges of money laundering and mortgage fraud.

The jury, however, acquitted Ibori's former assistant, Adebimpe Pogoson, of the charges against her. The jury is yet to announce its verdict pertaining to the third accused aide, Udoamaka Okoronkwo, who is Ibori's mistress.

The money laundering trial involving Ibori's female aides began in September 2009 at the Southwark Crown Court, London, after Ms Pogoson, a personal assistant on confidential matters during his tenure as the Delta State Governor, and Christine were charged in December 2007 on three counts of conspiring "together with Mr Ibori, Udoamaka Onuigbo and others, to defraud the Delta State government."

The aides allegedly helped the former governor move an estimated £70 million worth of looted funds through several London banks.

In a swift reaction to the conviction, spokesman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Femi Babafemi, told LEADERSHIP last night: "The development is a clear indication that EFCC's case against James Ibori is justified and not a political witch-hunt as the public is meant to believe."

Ibori is currently detained in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where he was recently arrested by INTERPOL after evading arrest by the EFCC.

The nation's anti-graft agency says Ibori stole as much as $292 million while as governor in the oil-rich state. In December, a court in Asaba, Delta State, dismissed a 170-count fraud case against Ibori. He was arrested on May 12 in Dubai on a UK warrant and remains there, but is free on bail.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ian Winter, counsel to Bhadresh Gohil,an associate of the former Delta State governor, James Ibori, has filed an urgent motion asking the Southwark Crown Court in London to try his client, Mr. Gohil, independently of Ibori's first wife, Theresa Nkoyo, who is standing trial for money laundering.

Winter reportedly backed out of his defence for Nkoyo over her inability to settle the required legal bills. Contrary to the economic and image-related reason advanced by Gohil for the urgency of his motion, LEADERSHIP learnt that the major problem was that Nkoyo's solicitors are now 'off the record' because of her inability to pay her legal bills.

Meanwhile,Ibori has rejected the judgement of the Southwark Court London, delivered Tuesday June 1, 2010. This is because despite the Judge's directive of last week that every charge must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, despite the failure of the Crown Prosecution to establish any proceeds of crime, despite the Prosecution's failure to evidence any crime, it is difficult to understand how his sister alone could have been found guilty of money laundering without proof by the London court.

In a statement signed by his media assistant, Tony Eluemunor, Ibori said: "It is a fact that during the judge's summing up last week, he expressely directed that the mortgage charges were "not safe" because the evidence presented by the the prosecution had been totally destroyed by the defence during cross-examination; this fact was even conceeded in open court by the prosecution.


Related stories: Video interview with James Ibori about corruption charges

Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria

Hillary Clinton attacks corruption and bad governance in Nigeria

Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria

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