A surprising turn of events in an eagerly watched case - the second conviction of a former Niger Delta governor for theft of state funds. Charges against Ibori are still pending in Nigeria.
27 February 2012
The wife, sister and mistress of James Ibori have also been convicted of money-laundering
James Ibori, a former governor of one of
Nigeria 's oil-producing states, has pleaded guilty in a court to 10 counts of money-laundering and conspiracy to defraud. UK
British police accuse him of stealing $250m (£160m) over eight years.
The prosecutor called him a "thief in government house".
Mr Ibori, once seen as one of
Nigeria 's wealthiest and most influential politicians, was arrested in 2010 in Dubai and then extradited to . London
Some $35m of his alleged
assets were frozen in 2007. UK
As his trial at
London 's Southwark Crown Court was about to begin, Mr Ibori changed his plea to guilty and admitted stealing money from Delta state and laundering it in through a number of offshore companies. London
“We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta state”
Paul Whatmore, Metropolitan Police
's Chris Summers says between 20 and 30 of Mr Ibori 's supporters turned up to court - some wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Free Ibori". There was not enough room for them all in the public gallery.
Prosecuting QC Sasha Wass said Mr Ibori, 53, had "tricked" his way into becoming Delta state governor, by giving a false date of birth and claiming he had no criminal record.
"He was never the legitimate governor and there was effectively a thief in government house. As the pretender of that public office, he was able to plunder Delta state
's wealth and hand out patronage."
He is due to be sentenced on 16 April.
's wife, Theresa, his sister, Christine, his mistress, Udoamaaka Okoronkwo, and his solicitor, Bhadresh Gohil, have all been convicted of money-laundering. London
Their convictions could only be reported on Monday after reporting restrictions were lifted.
"The vast sums of money involved were used to fund Mr Ibori
's lavish lifestyle," Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore, the officer in charge of the investigation, said.
"We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of
." Delta State
He said that the money Mr Ibori stole should have been used to pay for sanitation, power supplies and healthcare for some of the poorest people in the world.
Mr Ibori spent the stolen money on houses in
London and put his children in the best private schools in the . UK
He also bought a fleet of armoured Land Rovers and Bentleys and was in the process of buying a $32m private jet.
Three of the money-laundering charges relate to the sale of Delta state
's share in V-Mobile to Akwa Ibom state.
This raised $37m which Mr Ibori stole and laundered through his solicitor Gohil, who has been jailed for 10 years.
In 2007, a
court froze assets allegedly belonging to him worth $35m. UK
His annual salary as Delta state governor was less than $25,000.
He had already left the
UK when his assets were seized but he was arrested in later that year. Nigeria
The charges were dismissed but he was then re-arrested in
on a British warrant. Dubai
Mr Ibori has been convicted in the
UK before - in 1991 for stealing, in cahoots with his wife who worked as a cashier, from the Neasden, , branch of the DIY shop Wickes. London
He was also found guilty in 1992 for being in possession of a stolen credit card and having used it to fraudulently take out $1,590.
Nigeria 's federal system, state governors enjoy huge powers and control budgets larger than those of many West African countries.
They have immunity from prosecution while in office.
Two other former state governors have been convicted of corruption charges in
Nigeria, after fleeing the while free on bail. UK