A former Nigerian state governor has been sent to jail in the UK for 13 years for his part in fraud involving $250-million in state funds. James Ibori, 49, who was governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007, was sentenced in the Southwark Crown Court, in London, yesterday.
Scotland Yard said that during his two terms as governor Ibori “systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world” in fraud worth $250-million. In February, Ibori pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, five of money laundering and one of obtaining a property transfer by deception.
He also admitted conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and to one count of money laundering linked to a $37-million fraud surrounding the sale of shares in the company V Mobile.
Ibori “deliberately and systematically defrauded the people whose interests he had been elected to represent”, said Sue Patten, head of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service’s central fraud group. Britain’s international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said corruption was a “cancer” in the developing world and the sentence sent a strong message to people eyeing Britain “as a refuge for their crimes“.
“We are committed to rooting out corruption wherever it is undermining development,” he said.