James Onanefe Ibori, the former governor of Delta State, now serving 13 years jail terms in London in February 2012 on 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering worth £50 million was alleged by British prosecutor, Sasha Wassto, to have hid some of his assets in the oil firm, Oando.
The said money was alleged to have passed from the company’s accounts to Ibori’s Swiss accounts.
A three-week confiscation hearing, according to Reuters, began at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Monday, during which prosecutors would present evidence of Ibori’s assets and seek court orders to have them seized.
The Prosecutor claims she has evidence against james Ibori to “asserted ownership of a large part” of Oando, Nigeria’s biggest home-grown oil firm listed in Lagos, Johannesburg, and Toronto.
“The Crown will assert that Oando is a company where James Ibori has hidden assets,” Wass said, giving no further details.
The issue was raised briefly as part of preliminary discussion of various aspects of the confiscation hearing. Details are expected to be disclosed later in the proceedings.
Oando is not a party to the case, although a British lawyer represented its interests.
According to Tribune report, Ibori was not in court on Monday and his lawyer, Ivan Krolick, said he did not wish to attend the confiscation hearing, although he would come to court to give evidence if necessary.
During his sentencing hearing, the court held that Ibori had acquired six foreign properties worth £6.9 million, a fleet of luxury cars, including a Bentley and a Maybach 62, and that he had tried to buy a $20 million private jet.
Oando, in a reaction, said
“it is a publicly traded company listed on the Nigerian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges and does not and cannot control the trading in its securities on the floor of the respective exchanges.
“Based on our current shareholding register, Mr Ibori’s shareholding stands at 443 shares out of a total issued and paid-up share capital of 6.8 billion ordinary shares, which is clearly insignificant, and cannot be considered as a large part of Oando.”
The company added that it did not accept that sometime in 2004, in the normal course of its business, it sold some of its foreign exchange earnings for naira and the recipient of the US dollars was a company which had now turned out to be one controlled by Ibori.
The company said at the time of the transaction, the information was unknown to it.
“The total amount was $2.7 million made in three separate transactions over a period of about seven months. This amount was insignificant, considering the company’s turnover of approximately $800 million in 2004.
“The above constitutes the only transaction between Oando and any company controlled by Ibori. Consequently, Oando cannot be described as a company where Ibori has hidden assets as a result of these foreign exchange transactions,”
“it is unfortunate that our client has been dragged into these proceedings. There is no suggestion from the prosecution of any wrongdoing or involvement in wrongdoing on the part of Oando.”