LONDON (AFP) – Former Delta state governor, Chief James Ibori was Tuesday jailed by a British court for 13 years on for his part in a $250 million fraud of state funds but to spend four and half years behind bars.
James Ibori, 49, who was governor ofoil-rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Scotland Yard says that during his two terms as governor, Ibori “systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world”, in a fraud worth $250 million.
In February, Ibori pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, five of money laundering and one of obtaining a property transfer by deception.
He also admitted conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a $37-million share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in Nigerian company V Mobile.
Ibori “deliberately and systematically defrauded the people whose interests he had been elected to represent”, said Sue Patten, head of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service central fraud group.
Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said corruption was a “cancer” in the developing world and the sentence sent a strong message to people eying Britain “as a refuge for their crimes”.
“We are committed to rooting out corruption wherever it is undermining development, and will help bring its perpetrators like Ibori to justice and return stolen funds to help the world’s poorest,” he said in a statement.