EFCC Grills Businessman Over Ibori’s N1.6b ‘Aircraft’

James Ibori

James Ibori

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives are probing how former Delta Governor James Ibori allegedly laundered N1.6billion. The cash, he reportedly claimed, was meant for the purchase of a bombardier aircraft.
Instead of buying the aircraft, he is suspected to have laundered the cash abroad through six companies.
Of the controversial funds, about N1.2b has been traced to the accounts of the companies, The Nation learnt yesterday.
A top businessman, who is a major investor in the aviation industry, was on Saturday quizzed in Lagos over the matter.
The businessman was on Sunday released on bail, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
A source, who pleaded not to be named, said: “About N1.6billion was laundered from the accounts of the Delta State Government under the pretext that it was meant for a bombardier aircraft.”
It was learnt that the ex-governor asked the businessman to use his aviation company to facilitate the alleged phony aircraft purchase.
The source said: “The ex-governor made payment to six companies, which we have identified. No aircraft was bought and we have been able to establish that the money was laundered abroad.
“He just used the company of the businessman to transfer the funds off-shore. We have succeeded in tracing N1.2billion out of the N1.6b to some accounts. We will identify where the balance was laundered into.
“The outcome of the ongoing investigation will assist the ongoing trial of Ibori at a Southwark Court in London. You know, he is also facing money laundering charges before the court.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “We invited the businessman for interrogation last Saturday but he was released on bail on Sunday.
“We may still re-invite him as the probe progresses. But he has made useful statements to us.”
Contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said: “We arrested and quizzed the man last Saturday.” He declined further comments.
On August 2, 2007, an application of restraint was heard at the Southwark Crown Court on Ibori’s assets worth $35million.
The application was successful and made under the Proceeds of Crime Act. It related to business and private finances. On October 1, 2007, the application was reviewed at a further hearing at Southwark Crown Court and the restraint was discharged.
The trial of the ex-governor was delayed till February 13, 2012 after his defence team successfully argued that they hadn’t been given enough time to prepare.
He is facing 14 charges of fraud and money laundering at Southwark Court in London.



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