Ibori Named in Fraud Panama Papers


James Onanefe Ibori, the jailed ex-governor of Delta State who was convicted in 2012 for fraud has been linked to accounts in the Panama Papers scandal.

Ibori served as the governor of  Delta state between 1999 and 2007. He was convicted in 2012 for fraud in the United Kingdom, totaling nearly £50 million ($77 million at the time) by a London court following a complicated extradition procedure after he evaded arrest by Nigerian authorities and fled to Dubai. Ibori is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence in the U.K.

Ibori was linked to four offshore companies by the Panama Papers link, one of which—named Stanhope Investments—was used to open a Swiss bank account, into which funds were channeled for the purchase of a $20 million private jet.

The Panama Papers is a leak of more than 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca—obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with more than 100 other news organisation.  This is the biggest data leak in history. The documents show how 143 politicians, including 12 national leaders, have used offshore tax havens and other means to avoid tax and sanctions.

Inside the Mossack Fonseca data Offshore company figured in fraud and money laundering investigation

Screenshot 2016-04-05 16.07.22Mossack Fonseca was the registered agent of four offshore companies connected to James Ibori, including Julex Foundation, of which Ibori and family members were beneficiaries. Julex was the shareholder of Stanhope Investments, a company incorporated in Niue in 2003. Ibori was also connected to Financial Advisory Group Ltd. and Hunglevest Corporation, although Mossack Fonseca’s files do not specify the exact nature of his connection. In 2008, Mossack Fonseca received a request from the Seychelles government to produce documents as part of a probe by the Crown Prosecution Service, England’s principal prosecuting authority, of Ibori and alleged criminal activities. In 2012, Ibori pleaded guilty in a London court to laundering and fraud charges. During court hearings in the United Kingdom, prosecutors claimed that Ibori opened a Swiss bank account in the name of Stanhope Investments through which millions of dollars were later channeled to ultimately buy a $20 million private jet.

The Delta State government and its House of Assembly, is still to acknowledge that any funds have been fraudulently extracted from its treasury.

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