James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State who admitted to stealing more than $250 million from the state as a sitting governor, alongside his mistress, Udoamaka Onuigbo, on Thursday, appeared in a virtual UK court sitting as the confiscation of stolen assets hearing begun.
Mr Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2012 following his guilty plea to money laundering and begging trial, Judge Anthony Pitts for leniency.
After serving his jail term, he returned to Nigeria where he still remains a well respected politician in Delta State.
According to the London Metropolitan Police, Mr Ibori used the money he stole from Delta State to buy six houses in London. He paid £2.2 million in cash for one of those mansions in tony Hampstead. He also bought a £13 million jet, a £600,000 fleet of Range Rovers, and a £120,000 Bentley.
Mr Ibori also put his children in expensive British private schools while sharing the stolen funds with his wife, sister and mistress.
The Metro newspaper reports that Mr Ibori, a known pilferer at Wickes, a UK departmental store, is desperately trying to retain some of the properties, claiming he acquired them legitimately.
The publication added that Mr Ibori may be asked to pay back £116,821 and Ms Onuigbo and his wife Theresa, sister Christine, may be asked to return a combined sum of £2.6 million.
“Mr Ibori cheated his way into the position,” prosecutor Jonathan Kinnear told the court. “He abused his position of trust by systematically looting funds,” he added.
However, Ivan Krolick, Mr Ibori’s lawyer, argued that the ex-convict was a “successful businessman” and his assets were acquired from the proceeds of his business dealings.
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