U.S court orders seizure of over $3m Ibori funds, mansion

The United States Department of Justice has
secured a restraining order against more than
$3 million looted funds and a mansion in
Houston, Texas owned by former Delta State
Governor, Chief James Ibori, in the U.S.
Ibori is currently serving a 13-year jail term
in the United Kingdom for corruption and
money laundering.
The department got the powers through an
application filed under seal on May 16, 2012,
in U.S District Court in the District of
Columbia, to register and enforce two orders
from United Kingdom courts against more
than $3 million in corruption proceeds related to Ibori.
This was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director
John Morton in a statement on the U.SDOJ website on Tuesday.
“The application, which was filed under seal on May 16, 2012, in U.S. District Court in the
District of Columbia, seeks to restrain assets belonging to Governor Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil,
Ibori’s former English solicitor, that are proceeds of corruption.
“Specifically, it seeks to restrain a mansion in Houston and two Merrill Lynch brokerage
accounts. U.S. District Judge Lamberth granted the application and issued a restraining order
under seal on May 21, 2012.
“The department was notified today that its application to unseal the restraining order was
“The United States is working with the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service and the
Metropolitan Police Service to forfeit these corruption proceeds,” it said.
According to the application, Ibori served as the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State
from 1999 to 2007, and misappropriated millions of dollars in Delta State funds.
He laundered those proceeds through a myriad of shell companies, intermediaries and
nominees in several jurisdictions, including the UK, with the help of Gohil. Although Nigeria’s
Constitution prohibits state governors from maintaining foreign bank accounts and serving as
directors of private companies, Ibori and his associates accumulated millions of dollars in
assets in the UK and U.S, according to the application.
Ibori was convicted in the UK of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud and was
sentenced by a British court on April 18, 2012, to 13 years in prison.
Gohil was also convicted in November 2010 of money laundering and prejudicing a money
laundering investigation and was sentenced by a British court to 10 years in prison.
“Instead of working to benefit the people of the Nigerian Delta, Governor Ibori pilfered state
funds and accumulated immense wealth in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General
“He conspired with Mr. Gohil to funnel millions of dollars in corruption proceeds out of
Nigeria and into bank accounts and assets maintained in the names of shell companies and
“Through the Criminal Division’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, our message is clear:
the United States will not be used as a safe haven for the ill-gotten gains of corrupt foreign
“This serves as a warning to those corrupt foreign officials who abuse their power for
personal financial gain and then attempt to place those funds in the U.S. financial system,”
said ICE Director Morton.
“ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents will continue to work with our
law enforcement partners at the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture
and Money Laundering Section to investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit
activities and hold corrupt foreign officials accountable by denying them the satisfaction of
their illegal earnings.”
The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Woo S. Lee and Elizabeth Aloi of the Criminal
Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
“The case was investigated by ICE HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group, HSI Asset
Identification and Removal Group in Miami and HSI Attaché London.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
“This initiative is carried out by a dedicated team of prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s
Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law
enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and where
appropriate return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.
“Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or
laundered through institutions in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or
send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov.
“ICE HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami targets corrupt foreign officials
around the world that attempt to utilise U.S financial institutions to launder illicit funds.
“The group conducts investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign
public corruption, bribery or embezzlement.
“The objective is to prevent foreign derived ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S financial
infrastructure, to seize identified assets in the United States and repatriate these funds on
behalf of those affected by foreign official corruption,” the statement added.
More details later.

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