“We hope that, by tackling the likes of James Ibori, we’re saying to those stealing from the state purse, you can’t have your children at private school in London. You can’t have a multimillion pound house in one of the most affluent areas of London. You can’t drive around in top of the range vehicles. We won’t let you move money around to buy multimillion pound jet.”
This was the account made by the Unit head of the Proceeds of Corruption Unit of London’s Metropolitan Police, Detective Chief Inspector Jonathan Benton in a special report published by Cable News Network (CNN) yesterday.
The unit, staffed by a dozen or so detectives, traces the flow of foreign politicians’ money through London, and is funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development, which also delivers aid to Africa.
This statement coming in the wake of Ibori’s conviction gives the hint that some measures would be applied against corrupt Nigerian politicians and that the British Government may soon begin to bar their children from its private schools.
The report titled ‘How corrupt Nigerian politician was brought to justice in the UK’ recounts the events that led to Ibori’s seven-year investigation, arrest and conviction.
As governor of the oil-rich Delta state in Nigeria, James Ibori’s salary was only $6000 a year, yet he managed to afford luxury properties, fleets of Rolls Royces, a Bentley and a Maybach, first class travel, private boarding school fees and a private jet worth $20 million.
In April, accused of money laundering, Ibori pleaded guilty to stealing $80 million, although investigators believe he may have stolen three times as much. He was sentenced to 13 years.
Prior to entering politics, Ibori had lived in London, England with his wife Theresa.
In 1990, the pair were convicted of stealing from a hardware store where Ibori worked as a cashier. The next year, he was convicted of handling a stolen credit card. By the end of the decade, having lied about his criminal record, Ibori was governor of Delta State, and was reelected for a four year term in 2003.
Although acquitted by a Delta State court in 2009, justice finally came for Ibori in a South London court, after a seven year investigation by the Proceeds of Corruption Unit of London’s Metropolitan Police.
According to Robert Palmer of anti corruption NGO Global Witness, London holds a double attraction for corrupt politicians. “We are a major financial and legal center so there’s a lot of expertise, and there’s also a lot of assets that go through the British financial institution, so it’s easier to disguise your assets.” Palmer believes London also seems like a great place to spend “illicit loot”.
Recounting Ibori’s crimes actually sheds more light on the reasons behind the resolve by the British Government to prevent corrupt politicians from spending their looted funds in the country. But the question is, should the children be made to pay for the sins of the father? Should the children of corrupt Nigerian politicians be banned from attending private schools in the UK?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: CNN