Over $3 million in corruption proceeds linked to former Delta State governor, James Ibori have been frozen by the United States, reports have said.
United States authorities reportedly got a restraining order against the funds said to belong to Ibori, who is currently serving a 13 year jail term in the United Kingdom after a recent money laundering and fraud conviction.
According to the agency report, the United States is working hand in had with the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service to forfeit the corruption proceeds.
Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, John Morton, said the order came through an application to register and enforce two orders from UK courts, the agency report said.
The application seeks to restrain assets belonging to Ibori and his former lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, that were proceeds of the former Delta state governor’s corrupt practices and money laundering activities during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.
He reportedly accumulated millions of dollars at the time which he stored up in foreign bank accounts, which Nigerian laws prohibit government officials and office holders from having.
Breuer said: “Instead of working to benefit the people of the Niger- Delta, Governor Ibori pilfered state funds and accumulated immense wealth in the process”.
He added that both Ibori and Gohil conspired to funnel the million into bank accounts and assets maintained by fake companies.
“Through the Criminal Division’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, our message is clear: the United States will not be used as a safe haven for the ill-gotten gains of corrupt foreign officials,” Breuer said.
On his part, Morton said: “This serves as a warning to those corrupt foreign officials who abuse their power for personal financial gain and then attempt to place those funds in the US financial system.”
He added that US would continue to “investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit activities and hold corrupt foreign officials accountable by denying them the satisfaction of their illegal earnings.”
US government also called on individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through institutions in the US to report such via email to email@example.com, the agency report said.