September 17, 2013 / 3:51 PM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Nigeria's Oando down 10 pct on Ibori allegations

(Adds Oando denial in statement, details, background)

LAGOS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Shares in Oando Energy fell the maximum allowed 10 percent on Nigeria’s local bourse on Tuesday, after a UK prosecutor said jailed ex-governor James Ibori had hidden assets in the energy company, traders said.

Oando’s shares closed at 10.35 naira per share. In Toronto, they were down 23 percent to 1.13 Canadian dollars per share by 1455 GMT.

A British prosecutor told a court on Monday that Ibori used Oando to hide some of his assets, but the oil and gas company denied the allegations.

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.

One Lagos-based dealer said uncertainty around the court case had spooked Oando investors.

“It was a panic reaction to the news on the Ibori connection. Investors want to prevent losses in the event that assets of the company are seized,” one dealer said.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the London hearing that Ibori “asserted ownership of a large part” of Oando, Nigeria’s largest listed home-grown oil firm which also has listings in Johannesburg and Toronto.

In a statement on Tuesday, Oando’s head of investor relations Tokunboh Akindele called the allegations “incorrect and misleading,” arguing that if Ibori had bought its publicly traded shares, that was not the firm’s responsibility.

“James Ibori’s shareholding stands at 443 shares out of a total issued and paid up share capital of 6.8 billion ordinary shares, which is clearly insignificant,” the statement added.

A spokesman for Oando said on Monday the company had sold around $2.7 million of its foreign exchange earnings for naira in three transactions in 2004 to companies indirectly controlled by Ibori.

Tuesday’s statement said they were the only transactions between Oando and any company controlled by Ibori.

Ibori’s successful prosecution was one of the biggest embezzlement cases seen in Britain and a rare case of corruption in Africa’s second biggest economy going punished.

At the time of Ibori’s sentencing in April 2012, Judge Anthony Pitts said the 50 million pounds that he had admitted to stealing may be a “ludicrously low” fraction of his total loot. (Reporting by Mayowa Oludare; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by David Cowell)

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