The $153m Ibori stole may be returned to Nigeria soon

A British lawyer is trying to get some of the money Ibori stole, returned to Nigeria.

Ibori was sentenced and served jail time in the UK for stealing Nigeria's money (Reuters)

Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years behind bars.

Having served half of his sentence in pre- and post-trial detention, Ibori was released from jail in December 2016 and is now back in Nigeria, dictating who governs his state and senatorial district at every election cycle.

A first attempt to confiscate Ibori’s assets was made in 2013 in Britain. The process was however aborted after three weeks of hearings because of unresolved legal disputes.

On Thursday, January 16, 2020, prosecution counsel Jonathan Kinnear began listing assets that Britain seeks to confiscate from Ibori and return to the Nigerian treasury, Reuters reports.

The total value of the known proceeds of Ibori’s crimes came to 117 million pounds ($153 million), Kinnear said.

However, only a fraction of that sum is likely to be recoverable.

As governor of Delta State, Ibori, 57, amassed a portfolio of luxury properties in Nigeria, London, Washington, Houston and Johannesburg.

He traveled the world, lodging in the most expensive hotels, whilst spending lavishly in luxury stores.

His lifestyle during those years sharply contrasted with his humble beginnings. Ibori worked as a shop assistant at a branch of the home improvements chain Wickes in London. It was here that he was caught trying to steal from the store and was convicted of theft.

According to Britain’s National Crime Agency, an estimated 1 billion pounds in dirty money moves into or through the United Kingdom annually.

Ibori's case was a rare example of a prominent Nigerian politician being punished for his part in the endemic corruption that has blighted Africa’s most populous country for decades.

The confiscation case by Kinnear is expected to last for four weeks.

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