More trouble has come the way of imprisoned former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, as a United States (U.S.) court seized his asset worth N480 million ($3 million).
The seizure was announced, Monday, through a statement by an Assistant Attorney General at the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Lanny Breuer; and a Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Morton.
The asset, believed to be proceeds of corruption, seized from Mr. Ibori are a mansion in Houston and two Merrill Lynch brokerage accounts. The case is part of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
“Instead of working to benefit the people of the Nigerian Delta, Governor Ibori pilfered state funds and accumulated immense wealth in the process,” Mr. Breuer said.
“He conspired with Mr. Gohil (Bhadresh, his British Lawyer) 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 nominees. “
The U.S. District court of Columbia approved the seizure on May 16, 2012, following an application from a UK court.
Mr. Ibori is already serving his jail term in the UK after he was convicted, to 13 years in prison, for money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
The Delta State born politician was governor of the oil-rich state from may 1999 to May 2007.
Mr. Gohil was also convicted, in November 2010, of money laundering and prejudicing a money laundering investigation; and was sentenced by a UK court to 10 years in prison.
Report Corrupt Leaders to us
While speaking on the asset seizure, Mr. Morton, the ICE director descried Mr. Ibori’s case 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.”
He said his agency would work with other US authorities to deny “them (corrupt foreign officials) the satisfaction of their illegal earnings.”
The statement also called on members of the public, anywhere in the world, to report any public official suspected of keeping stolen funds in the U.S.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org,” it stated.