A prosecutor in Southwark Crown Court, Sasha Wass said on Monday that the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, now facing trial in London has admitted that some of the money he starched away while he was governor of the oil rich state was invested in Oando.
Ibori is serving 13 years jail term in Britain after pleading guilty in February 2012 to 10 count charge of fraud and money-laundering worth 50 million pounds ($79 million) Oando is listed in Lagos, Johannesburg and Toronto stocks exchange.
“The Crown will assert that Oando is a company where James Ibori has hidden assets,” Wass said, giving no further details. Oando is not a party to the case, although British lawyer Andrew Baillie was in court to represent the firm’s interests.
A spokesman for Oando in Lagos told Reuters that in 2004, the company had sold $2.7 million of its foreign exchange earnings for naira in three transactions over about seven months with a company that had turned out to be controlled by Ibori. Oando did not know at the time that Ibori was behind the company, he said.
The spokesman also said that at present, Ibori had an “insignificant” shareholding in Oando.
At the time of Ibori’s sentencing in April 2012, Judge Anthony Pitts said the 50 million pounds that he had admitted to stealing may be a “ludicrously low” fraction of his total booty, which could be more than 200 million pounds.
Wass said Nuhu Ribadu, a former head of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency EFCC, would testify later in the hearing. He alleges that in 2007, Ibori tried to stop EFCC investigations into his affairs by offering Ribadu a bribe of $15 million in cash.
Ibori, who is at Long Lartin maximum security prison in central England, could be released as early as 2016 after spending two years in custody before his sentencing and will be eligible for parole halfway through his prison term.
Ibori was not in court today but his lawyer Ivan Krolick said Ibori did not wish to attend the confiscation hearing although he would come to court to give evidence if necessary.