UK now to return £4m from corrupt officials to Nigeria

  • The UK will send more than £4m of stolen funds back to
    Nigeria for the first time under an agreement to return assets seized from criminals.
    The money was stolen by former Nigerian state governor James Ibori and his associates and recovered by UK agencies.
    It will be spent on infrastructure and building works for the Nigerian people, the Foreign Office said.
    Ibori was given a 13-year prison sentence in April 2012 after he pleaded guilty to 10 criminal charges over the appropriation of massive amounts of public funds during his two terms as governor of Delta State.
    As he had spent time in custody in the United Arab Emirates prior to his extradition and conviction in the UK, he was released in 2016 and left the UK in 2017.

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    Ibori appeared at Southwark Crown Court via videolink from Nigeria last year to hear legal arguments as part of efforts to prevent criminals from financially gaining from their crimes.
    British authorities have claimed he gained at least £117m from fraud and said he has identified assets of at least £46m.
    Some £4.2m was retrieved through operations led by UK law enforcement agencies who identified assets bought in the UK with illicit funds and recovered them.
    The Metropolitan Police Service, National Crime Agency and Crown Prosecution Service were involved in the operations.
    An agreement between the UK and Nigeria was reached in 2016 to return assets seized from criminals and this is the first time it has been used.
    Africa minister James Duddridge said: “When money is stolen from public funds it hits the poorest communities the hardest and means money can’t be spent where it’s most needed.
    “The UK’s work on this case to recover millions of pounds will support vital infrastructure and building works.
    “The UK and Nigeria will continue to work together to tackle crime and corruption across our nations.”
    Home Office minister Baroness Williams added: “This is a significant moment in our fight against illicit finance wherever it is found.
    “Recovering the proceeds of crime is a critical part of our fight against serious crime and this sends a clear message to criminals that we will relentlessly pursue them, their assets and their money.”
    Adrian Foster, chief crown prosecutor of CPS Proceeds of Crime, said: “Corruption anywhere is corrosive and has a drastic impact on the lives of the people where money is embezzled from.
    “Where there is international corruption carried out from England and Wales, we will robustly prosecute and deprive individuals of their ill-gotten gains.
    “Thanks to diligent and complex work of our prosecutors, £4.2m is being returned to the people of Nigeria and will go towards projects which will massively benefit the country.
    “This forms part of the CPS’s ongoing asset recovery work.”

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