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HomeTop NewsLondon Court orders Ibori's lawyer to pay $36 mln for aiding illegal...

London Court orders Ibori’s lawyer to pay $36 mln for aiding illegal fund concealment

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A London court has issued a ruling on Monday, demanding that a former lawyer of James Ibori, the ex-governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State, Bhadresh Gohil to pay approximately £28 million (around $36 million) for his involvement in concealing unlawfully obtained funds.

Gohil was convicted in 2010 on 13 counts of money laundering and other offenses related to his role in aiding Ibori in hiding the proceeds from criminal activities during his tenure as governor from 1999 to 2007.

The British Crown Prosecution Office (CPS) revealed that Gohil, who received a 10-year prison sentence in 2010 and served half of it, now faces an order to pay just over £28 million or risk an additional six years in prison.

This decision comes shortly after Ibori, who misused his position of power to amass wealth and launder millions in the UK and other countries, was ordered last Friday to pay £101.5 million ($130 million) or face an eight-year sentence. Ibori, currently in Nigeria, has announced his intention to appeal the ruling.

The confiscation order against Ibori represents the second-largest under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in the UK since its inception, as per data obtained by Reuters from the CPS through the Freedom of Information law. Gohil’s order ranks as the fifth-largest.

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While Britain remains a global hub for money laundering due to its highly developed financial and legal services, and lucrative property market, prosecution of foreign kleptocrats attracted to the country is rare, making Ibori’s case an exception.

The lengthy confiscation process, spanning over a decade since Ibori’s conviction, has been marred by court delays and legal disputes in London.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), involved in the process, asserted its commitment to pursuing assets obtained through criminal means and invested in Britain. NCA Branch Commander Suzanne Foster declared that Ibori’s funds would be returned to the Nigerian government for reinvestment into public services.

Previously, in 2021, Britain returned £4.2 million confiscated from Ibori’s ex-wife and sister, both of whom served jail time for aiding him.

Helen Taylor, senior legal researcher at the campaign group Spotlight on Corruption, acknowledged the significance of the recent orders in the lengthy legal proceedings but emphasized that enforcement and repatriation of the confiscated assets to Nigeria would present challenges. Taylor urged the UK to act promptly to ensure transparent and accountable asset return.

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