A UK court has ruled that Britain seize £101.5 million ($130 million) from former Nigerian governor of Delta state James Ibori, who used his position to enrich himself and laundered millions in the UK and overseas.
According to Reuters, in a court order delivered on Friday in London, Judge David Tomlinson of Southwark Crown Court stated that Ibori must pay the cash immediately or face an eight-year prison sentence.
Ibori has stated that he will challenge the confiscation order, which is one of the largest granted against an individual in recent British judicial history.
The judge legally declared that Ibori gained financially from illegal activity in the amount of 101.5 million pounds.
The judge declared, “I make a confiscation order in that sum because Mr. Ibori has not satisfied me nor really has he tried to satisfy me that he is incapable of paying the full amount”,
The judge went on to state that there was no need to extend the deadline for payment of the specified amount.
“I set a term of eight years’ imprisonment in default of payment,” Judge Tomlinson ruled.
After being arrested from his Dubai house by UAE security in 2011, he was extradited to the UK.
Ibori landed in the United Kingdom via Heathrow Airport after the London Metropolitan Police foiled his attempt to avoid his approaching trial in the United Kingdom.
Upon arrival, he was transported to a police station in London and processed in preparation for his court appearance. Ibori was charged with 25 charges of money laundering and fraud.
Britain is a global money-laundering powerhouse due to its highly sophisticated financial and legal services, as well as its wealthy property market, but the foreign kleptocrats it attracts are rarely prosecuted, and Ibori’s case remains an aberration.
After more than a decade of legal wrangling and court delays, prosecutors’ attempts to seize funds deemed to be the proceeds of Ibori’s wrongdoing appear to be nearing completion.
Ibori was the governor of the oil-rich Delta State of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, and he was extradited to Britain from Dubai in 2011.
In 2012, he pleaded guilty to ten counts of fraud and money laundering and received a 13-year prison term, half of which he served.
The case was heralded as a watershed moment in the fight against corruption in both Britain, a global money-laundering hotspot, and Nigeria, where self-enrichment by the governing class has been a major impediment to growth for decades.