Ex-Nigerian Delta Governor Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

Former Nigerian Delta State Governor James Ibori pleaded guilty in London to stealing millions of dollars from the West African nation while he was in power.

Ibori, who governed the state for eight years, entered the guilty pleas to 10 charges including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud today, when his trial was scheduled to begin. Police estimate he embezzled $250 million to live “a life of luxury,” the U.K.’s Department for International Development said in a statement.

“Ibori has effectively accepted that he stole the money while he was governor of the Nigerian state, which he went on to launder,” Sasha Wass, a lawyer for the prosecutors, said at the hearing. He “siphoned off millions from the coffers of the Nigerian state.”

Ibori was charged in April 2011 by U.K. prosecutors after he was extradited from Dubai. He was under investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Proceeds of Corruption Unit for seven years, Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore said in the statement.

“We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta State,” Whatmore said.

Ibori was first arrested by the Abuja-based Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, in December 2007 after he left office and was charged with 170 counts of corruption, the statement said. The charges were dismissed two years later by a Federal High Court in Asaba, Ibori’s home town.

The case against Ibori by the EFCC was “never closed,” Wilson Uwujaren, a spokesman for the agency, said today in an e- mail. The EFCC’s appeal of the Asaba court ruling is pending, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lindsay Fortado in London at lfortado@bloomberg.net; Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja at ebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Scinta at cscinta@bloomberg.net

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