British prosecutors on Thursday made attempts to confiscate 30.8 million pounds ($39.3 million) from a London lawyer who had been accused of helping Former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, to plunder and launder money from the oil rich state he governed.
In 2010, Badrash Gohil was convicted on 13 counts, including money laundering in the case of James Ibori, who served as Governor of the Delta State in southern Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. Gohil was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Gohil, who was a partner in the firm’s Mayfair district in London, helped Ibori channel stolen funds to shell companies and offshore accounts to purchase assets, including a British country house and a $20 million private jet, before police swiftly arrested the both them before the jet could be delivered.
Gohil also initiated the fraudulent theft of $37 million in counterfeit consulting fees in two Nigerian states in connection with the sale of shares in a telecommunications company.
Britain, with its highly developed financial and legal services industry, has long been a favorite destination for those who want to launder their state or country’s money.
Banks have been fined and scandals have been revealed by leaks such as FinCEN and Panama papers, but direct beneficiaries such as Ibori and Gokhil are still rarely held accountable.
Ibori was extradited to the UK in 2011 and in 2012 was convicted on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Britain welcomed the case as a milestone in the fight against corruption and promised to return the stolen funds to the Nigerian state treasury. However, confiscation procedures for both Ibori and Gohil have been ongoing for almost ten years and have been repeatedly postponed due to appeals and complications.
The Ibori case was heard in London’s Southwark Crown Court in January. The prosecution asked the court to order the forfeiture of 117 million pounds sterling against Ibori. The judge has yet to make a decision.
The Gohil hearing is in the same court. Chief Counsel Jonathan Kinner began Thursday to elaborate on Gokhil’s criminal interests.
Gohil will later be able to call witnesses to the hearing and give his own testimony to challenge the prosecution’s allegations. A confiscation order against Gohil will be issued by the judge at a later date.