Jailed ex-governor hid assets in Nigeria's Oando - British prosecutor

Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:03am EDT
 
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By Estelle Shirbon

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Jailed former Nigerian oil state governor James Ibori hid some of his assets in the oil firm Oando and money passed from the company's accounts to Ibori's Swiss accounts, a British prosecutor told a court on Monday.

Ibori, who governed Delta State from 1999 to 2007 and influenced national politics, was jailed for 13 years in Britain after pleading guilty in February 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering worth 50 million pounds ($79 million).

One of the biggest embezzlement cases seen in Britain, the successful prosecution of Ibori was also a rare example of a senior Nigerian politician being held to account for the corruption that blights Africa's most populous country.

A three-week confiscation hearing began at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday during which prosecutors will present evidence of Ibori's assets and seek court orders to have them seized. Defence lawyers will dispute the prosecution case.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court she would be presenting evidence that Ibori had "asserted ownership of a large part" of Oando, Nigeria's biggest home-grown oil firm which is listed in Lagos, Johannesburg and Toronto.

"The Crown will assert that Oando is a company where James Ibori has hidden assets," Wass said, giving no further details.

The matter was raised briefly as part of an initial discussion of various aspects of the confiscation hearing. Details are expected to be disclosed later in the proceedings.

Oando is not a party to the case, although a British lawyer was in court representing the company's interests.   Continued...