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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Swiss Bank Document Exposes Ibori’s Ownership Of 30 Per Cent Of Oando, 50 Per Cent Of Nigerian Bank

former-Delta-State-governor-Chief-James-Ibori-360x225A Southwark Crown Court yesterday heard from a British prosecutor, Sasha Wass, how convicted former Delta State governor James Ibori passed himself off to a Swiss private bank in 2004 as being the owner of an Insurance coy, half owner of a bank and owning 30 percent of indigenous oil firm – Oando, which paid $1.2 million into his account that year.
The court also heard that PKB Private bank had in an internal document likened Ibori, who governed Delta State from 1999 to 2007, to a scion of the Kennedy dynasty in the United States.
Ibori was convicted in February 2012 in the UK after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering worth 50 million pounds ($79.5 million).
Prosecutors say his total wealth was likely to be far greater than that.
Details of Ibori’s assets and how he kept them from public knowledge through a maze of shell companies and off shore bank accounts are being revealed as part of a three-week confiscation hearing which began in London on Monday.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court that while opening an account at Swiss bank, PKB, through a shell company called Stanhope Investment, Mr. Ibori told the bank he owns 30 per cent of Oando.
Quoting from internal PKB documents, Ms. Wass said the former governor presented himself as the owner of an insurance company and 50 per cent owner of a Nigerian Bank.
She said that a total of $1.2 million (N180 million) flowed into the PKB account from Oando in three instalments that year which had later been funneled into other accounts and were part of funds intended for the purchase of a $20 million (N3 billion) private jet.
This is contrary to a statement by Oando on Monday which claimed that Ibori had only an “insignificant” holding in the firm adding that it had sold $2.7 million of its foreign exchange earnings for naira in 2004 to a company that had later turned out to be controlled by Ibori; a fact it did not know that at the time.
It was learnt that following news of Ibori’s involvement with Oando, its shares dipped 10 per cent at the stock market on Tuesday and might still suffer more slip ups in the coming weeks.
Ms. Wass told the court yesterday that despite his assets being restrained in 2008, Ibori had after that date continued to live a lavish lifestyle, travel and pay fees to the English boarding school where his three children were being educated.
Coupled with his unenviable track record of hiding assets, this led to the “irresistible inference” by investigators that Ibori had further hidden assets which had not yet been uncovered, Ms. Wass said, adding that one option of where these might be, was Oando.
Wass also quoted from an internal PKB report from 2004 which said Ibori came from one of a few Nigerian families which had for decades developed Nigeria’s oil industry.
“We could compare these families with the Kennedy dynasty which also mixed business and politics,” the bank document said. Another excerpt said Ibori was “an extremely rich man as he was doing a lot of business before becoming governor”.


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