News / Africa

    Nigerian Fertilizer Firm Linked to Jailed Ex-governor

    Former governor of Nigeria's oil rich Delta State James Ibori pictured in this undated, file photo.
    Former governor of Nigeria's oil rich Delta State James Ibori pictured in this undated, file photo.
    Reuters
    Jailed Nigerian former oil state governor James Ibori used front men and shell companies to acquire a hidden stake in privatized Nigerian fertilizer company Notore, a British police detective told a London court on Wednesday.
     
    Detective Constable Peter Clark also said Ibori had bought two apartments in Washington in 2001 worth a total of $4.43 million, previously unknown assets to add to a list of six other Ibori properties in four countries worth $11 million.
     
    The court was shown footage of one of the properties, a palatial residence in the Nigerian capital Abuja complete with marble columns, crystal chandeliers and a private gym.
     
    Ibori, who governed oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007, was jailed for 13 years in Britain last year after pleading guilty to 10 counts of money laundering and fraud in one of the biggest embezzlement cases seen in Britain.
     
    He is the most senior politician to be held accountable for the corruption that blights Africa's most populous nation, where the majority have little or no power or running water.
     
    A three-week confiscation hearing began at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday during which prosecutors will present evidence of Ibori's assets and seek court orders to have them seized.
     
    Clark, who has investigated Ibori's finances since 2005, said the ex-governor was linked to Notore via a shell company incorporated in Mauritius and a circle of associates.
     
    “It is my belief that James Ibori has some sort of hidden interest in the company Notore,” Clark said.
     
    A spokesman for Notore who was present in court on Wednesday denied that Ibori had hidden assets in the firm.
     
    “He does not own shares in the company and no other shareholder or shareholders hold shares for him in trust so far as the company is aware,” the spokesman told Reuters, asking not to be named.
     
    Shares in Oando, Nigeria's biggest home-grown energy firm, have fallen by 10 percent for two days in a row after alleged links with Ibori, denied by Oando.
     
    'Three-percent for the frontman'
     
    Notore, which is not listed, grew out of the state-owned fertilizer company NAFCON, which went bust in 1999. As part of a privatization program, Notore took over NAFCON's assets for $152 million in 2005, according to its website.
     
    Clark told the court that police had seized five files labeled NAFCON that linked Ibori to Notore at the office of London lawyer Bhadresh Gohil, who is serving a 10-year jail term for his role in laundering Ibori's millions.
     
    Gohil had incorporated a company in Mauritius under the name Notore Chemical Industries Mauritius Ltd, which Clark said appeared to be a shell company that would own part of Notore, Clark said.
     
    Gohil had written in 2005 to Jite Okoloko, now chief executive of Notore, asking him to “confirm your instructions” regarding NAFCON and giving bank coordinates for transfers.
     
    Gohil also wrote a memo about a visit he made to Lagos in 2005 during which he took part in a meeting with Ibori, Okoloko and Henry Imasekha, who is named as a co-conspirator in one of the two British indictments against Ibori, Clark said.
     
    Gohil's memo said the men discussed how equity in Notore would be split between various shareholders. They put the value of the company once it would be up and running at $1.2 billion.
     
    A separate diagram drawn up by Gohil was described by prosecutor Sasha Wass as a “route map for the ownership of Notore." It suggested that more than half of the firm, a stake valued at $39.7 million, would go to Ibori, Okoloko and Imasekha.
     
    Clark testified that a three-percent stake was allocated to Mike Orugbo, now a member of the Notore board.
     
    “He was a frontman used to purchase NAFCON from the Nigerian government. He obtained three percent to do so,” Clark said.
     
    Ibori, who is at a maximum security prison in central England, has not attended the court hearings.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: HRH from: Royal Greenwich
    September 19, 2013 2:26 AM
    If we give it up or are forced to give it up - God will give us 100 fold return.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora