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Corrupt former Hampstead cashier stole £157m in Nigerian government role

PUBLISHED: 14:19 07 June 2016

James Ibori, described as one of Nigeria's most influential and wealthy politicians, stole more than £150m (Picture: Central News)

James Ibori, described as one of Nigeria's most influential and wealthy politicians, stole more than £150m (Picture: Central News)

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A former Nigerian state governor who lived in Hampstead defrauded some of the world's poorest people of £157m faces having his assets seized.

A Bentley, owned by James Ibori (Picture: Central News)A Bentley, owned by James Ibori (Picture: Central News)

James Ibori, 57, was jailed for 13 years in 2012, but he’s yet to pay back a penny because of delays amid allegations of corruption against the CPS.

Ibori, formerly of Westover Hill, worked as a cashier in Wickes before a meteoric rise in the regime of President Sani Abacha, having started as a policy consultant.

He blew millions on luxury homes, a £12.6m private jet, school fees for his children, first-class travel and exclusive hotels.

He owned a £600,000 fleet of armoured Range Rovers, a £120,000 Bentley, and a £340,000 Mercedes Maybach that was shipped to his £3.2m mansion in Johannesburg.

Described as one of Nigeria’s most influential and wealthy politicians, Ibori rigged lucrative state contracts with the help of his wife, mistress, sister, and an inner circle of corrupt officials.

He sold £23m of state-owned shares in telecoms company Vee Mobile.

Nigerian-born Ibori moved to the UK in the 1980s where he married his wife, Theresa, and worked as a cashier at Wickes in Ruislip.

In 1990 the pair were convicted of stealing goods from the store and fined £300, and a year later Ibori was fined £100 for handling a stolen credit card before he moved back to his homeland.

Ibori was elected as governor of Delta State in 1999 after tricking his way into power by hiding details of his previous convictions in the UK for theft and changing his age.

In 2003, he was re-elected as governor for another four year term, after failing to disclose his previous convictions and financial status.

During that time he systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world.

His methods included the inflation of State contracts, kickbacks and the transfer of cash from the State accounts by unscrupulous employees in his inner circle.

Jailing the crooked politician for 15 years in 2012, Judge Anthony Pitts said: “It is during your two terms that you turned yourself in very short order indeed into a multi-millionaire through corruption and theft while in your powerful position as Delta state governor.

“On any view just taking the Vee Mobile and the Challenger jet [the fraud totals] some £50m, but in light of other matters perhaps that is a ludicrously low and the figure may be in excess of £200m, it’s difficult to tell.”

A confiscation hearing is underway, and is set to last three months.

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