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A former Governor of Nigeria's Delta State has been ordered to pay over £100 million and his solicitor over £28 million

|News, Proceeds of crime , Fraud and economic crime

A former Governor of Delta State in Nigeria who systematically defrauded the state and its citizens of millions of pounds, was ordered to pay £101,514,315.21 on Friday or face an additional 8 years in prison. Today, his solicitor, co-defendant Bhadresh Gohil has received a substantial Confiscation Order of £28,191,787.15. 

Corrupt James Ibori, 61, used his position as Governor to steal millions to fund a lavish and luxurious lifestyle, buying properties in London, Washington DC, and Texas, as well as a Mercedes and a Bentley. 

Ibori laundered the proceeds of his crime through a complex scheme that involved his associates, including his wife, his sister, and his lover. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Money Laundering, Money Laundering, Conspiracy to defraud and Conspiracy to make false instruments on 27 February 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Gohil helped Ibori to hide his criminal proceeds and to defraud the people of Delta State, Nigeria. He was convicted in 2010 of money laundering, prejudicing a money laundering investigation and conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Following lengthy confiscation proceedings, he was found to have benefited from his offending in the sum of £42,424,037.01 with the judge determining that he has available assets of £28,191,787.15 to pay a Confiscation Order or serve 6 additional years in prison.

Finding the hidden assets
In the confiscation proceedings Ibori disputed that he had benefited and went to great lengths to disguise the assets he owned. 

In 2012 the former Governor provided a statement about his income, property, shares, gifts, and transfers which the CPS disputed was a true reflection of the assets he had. 

Although Ibori listed 20 bank accounts, he provided no balances and the CPS argued that he had significantly more assets, even using text messages to prove that he owned an additional property, which was held in a company name. 

Ibori also claimed to have been earning $2.5million legitimately, which he used to purchase assets, but there was no paperwork or evidence to verify the source of this money. 

The CPS argued that Ibori’s claims of legitimate wealth were fabricated to pretend that they were not the proceeds of crime. 

After a four-week hearing at Southwark Crown Court, the CPS was able to prove that Ibori had benefited from his offending by £101,514,315.21 and had considerably more assets than he had disclosed. 

As a result, the judge has determined that Ibori has at least £101,514,315.21 available assets and has made a Confiscation Order in that amount, noting that a failure to pay that order in full will result in him being subject to an additional 8years in prison. 

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said: “This was one of our largest international cases and illustrates how robustly the CPS tackles international illicit finance and corruption.”

“The amount that both defendants have benefited from their criminality has been highly contested, but thanks to the hard work of our dedicated team and that of the National Crime Agency, we have been able to uncover the full extent of their corruption.” 

“This has led to the making of Confiscation Orders of over £128m, which will ultimately result in the return of funds back to the people of Nigeria.”

Notes to editors

  • Adrian Foster is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division which sits within the Serious Economic and Organised Crime International Directorate (SEOCID)
  • James Ibori (DOB: 04/08/1962) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Money Laundering, Money Laundering, Conspiracy to defraud and Conspiracy to make false instruments on 27 February 2012 and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
  • Bhadresh Gohil (DOB:5/12/1964) was convicted of Money Laundering and Prejudicing a money laundering investigation on 22 November 2010 and pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to defraud, Conspiracy to make false instruments and Money Laundering on 6 December 2010. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and Confiscation order judgement for this defendant is due to be made on Monday 24 July 2023
  • Udomaka Onuigbo (DOB: 08/12/1964) controlled several companies in Nigeria and used these to transfer Ibori’s criminal proceeds to UK bank accounts. Funds were then used to buy houses in the UK and abroad. Onuigbo also used the companies to transfer funds to a trust in Guernsey. Onuigbo pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering offences on 2 June 2010 and was sentenced to 5 years in prison. A Confiscation Order of £2,649,959.45 was made against her in August 2011, and has been paid in full. She succeeded partially in her appeal against the Confiscation Order and a re-hearing of the benefit figure was ordered, but only to the extent of the benefit over and above the amount of the Confiscation Order. 
  • Theresa Ibori (DOB: 05/01/1968) was convicted on 22 November 2010 of two counts of Money Laundering and sentenced to five years imprisonment. A Confiscation Order for £5,175,000 was made on 20 May 2011, of which £3,559,474.60 has been paid and the Confiscation Order varied to the amount paid due to the inadequacy of her assets. 
  • Christina Ibori-Ibie (DOB: 4/7/1958) was convicted of three counts of Money Laundering and five counts of deception and sentenced to five years imprisonment on 7 June 2010. A Confiscation Order for £829,786.44 was made on 23 November 2010, of which £629,417.63 has been paid and the Confiscation Order varied to reduce to the amount paid due to inadequacy of her assets.
  • Rowland Nakanda (DOB: 29/1/1961) was convicted of two counts of Money Laundering on 19 June 2015 and sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment. Confiscation proceedings took place on 3 May 2019 and a Confiscation Order of £73,000 was made with a benefit finding of £683,641.94 with 3 months to pay and 12 months in default. It was paid in full on 1 November 2019.
  • Elias Preko (DOB: 13/3/1959) was convicted of Money Laundering in 2013 and sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment. On 2 September 2019 a Confiscation Order was made against Preko in the sum of £7,324,268.41. This is now the subject of enforcement.

Criminal confiscation proceedings 

After conviction the CPS can ask the court to make a Confiscation Order where the judge will consider two things:

•    The total financial ‘benefit’ that a defendant made from their criminal activity
•    The total value of the available assets the defendant currently has to pay their order

When the available amount is less than the benefit amount, the defendant is only ordered to pay the amount they have available to pay at the point the Confiscation Order is made. 

In the last 5 years over £480m in criminal assets have been recovered in respect of CPS prosecutions stopping thousands of criminals benefiting from their ill-gotten gains. £105m of that amount has been returned to victims by way of compensation.

Further reading

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