British prosecutors have moved to seize about $39.3 million (30.8 million pounds) from a London lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, who helped former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in looting and laundering illegal funds from the oil-rich state.
Gohil was sentenced to 10 years in prison, following his conviction in 2010 on 13 counts of money-laundering, and other offenses, over his role in the fraud and money laundering case of Ibori, who was the former governor of Delta State, from 1999 to 2007.
KanyiDaily recalls that James Ibori, was extradited to the United Kingdom from the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and subsequently convicted in 2012 on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering. He was handed a 13-year jail term.
Gohil, who was then a partner at a firm in the London district of Mayfair, helped Ibori siphon these stolen funds, through shell companies and offshore accounts.
He bought assets such as an English country house and a $20 million private jet. However, the police authorities caught up with the men before the jet was delivered.
The lawyer was also said to have masterminded a fraud, in which $37 million in fake consultancy fees was stolen from two Nigerian states, in connection with the sale of their stakes in a telecoms company in the country.
The outcome of the case was hailed in Britain and described as a victory for the fight against corruption, while also pledging to return stolen funds to the Nigerian government.
However, the confiscation proceedings against the two culprits have dragged on for almost 10 years, and repeatedly delayed by appeals and complications.
In Ibori’s case, the hearing took place at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January, and prosecutors asked the court to make a confiscation order of 117.7 million pounds against Ibori. The judge has yet to hand down his decision.
The case was currently ongoing at the London’s Southwark Crown Court, with lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, opening his case against Mr Gohil.
Mr Gohil is expected to be given the opportunity in the hearing to call witnesses to disprove the evidence against him.
KanyiDaily recalls that the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio had recently linked James Ibori to contract scam worth billions of Naira in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).