UK Takes Legal Action to Seize $39m from Lawyer Who Assisted Ibori Move Stolen Funds from Nigeria

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James Ibori
Chief James Onanefe Ibori
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UK Takes Legal Action to Seize $39m from Lawyer Who Assisted Ibori Move Stolen Funds from Nigeria

British prosecutors have begun a move to confiscate $39.3m from Bhadresh Gohil, a London lawyer, who assisted James Ibori to loot and launder funds from Nigeria.

Ibori, ex-governor of Delta State, was convicted in 2010 in the United Kingdom for money-laundering.

Gohil was also convicted in 2010 of 13 counts of money-laundering and other offences linked to his role in the case.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Reuters reported that Gohil also masterminded a fraud in which $37m in fake consultancy fees was stolen from two Nigerian states in connection with the sale of their stakes in a telecoms company.

Then a partner at a firm in the London district of Mayfair, Gohil had helped Ibori channel stolen funds through shell companies and offshore accounts and buy assets such as an English country house and a $20m private jet — although police caught up with the men before the jet was delivered.

Banks have been fined and scandals revealed by leaks such as the FinCEN and Panama papers, but it remains unusual for direct beneficiaries such as Ibori and Gohil to be held to account.

In Ibori’s case, a hearing took place at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January. Prosecutors asked the court to make a confiscation order against Ibori of 117.7 million pounds. 

The judge has yet to hand down his decision.

A hearing on Gohil’s case is ongoing at the same court. 

Lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, on Thursday began setting out the details of what he said was Gohil’s criminal benefit.

Gohil will have a chance later in the hearing to call witnesses and give evidence himself to dispute the prosecution case. 

Any confiscation order against him, as for Ibori, will be issued by the judge at a later date.

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