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For helping ex-Gov Ibori to launder money, UK court slams lawyer with £28m fine

An Indian-origin lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, 58, was on Monday ordered by a UK court to pay more than £28 million in costs associated with criminal activity. Gohil was previously found guilty of fraud and money laundering in a case involving allegations of corruption against a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

According to the Press Trust of India on Tuesday, Gohil, 58, was found guilty in connection with a corruption case, involving his client Ibori, of money laundering, obstructing an investigation into money laundering, and conspiring to defraud.

In 2010, he was found guilty of these crimes and given a 10-year prison term.

The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service said at the conclusion of drawn-out confiscation proceedings at Southwark Crown Court in London on Monday that Gohil was found to have benefited to the tune of £42.4 million and that the judge determined that he has available assets of £28.2 million to pay a Confiscation Order or serve another six years in prison.

“This was one of our largest international cases and illustrates how robustly the CPS tackles international illicit finance and corruption,” The PTI quoted Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor in the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division as saying.

“The amount that both defendants have benefited from their criminality has been highly contested, but thanks to the hard work of our dedicated team and that of the National Crime Agency, we have been able to uncover the full extent of their corruption.”

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“This has led to the making of Confiscation Orders of over £128 million, which will ultimately result in the return of funds back to the people of Nigeria.”

Ibori, 61, was found to have stolen money while serving as Delta State’s governor in order to maintain a luxurious lifestyle that included buying homes in Texas, London, and Washington, DC, as well as Mercedes and Bentleys.

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Last Friday, the judge finally decided the case, finding that he had routinely stolen millions of pounds from the state and its citizens. He subsequently issued an order requiring him to pay over £101 million or face an additional eight years in prison.

According to testimony given in court, Ibori used a sophisticated scheme to launder the proceeds of his crime, one that included his wife, sister, and lover.

In February 2012, he entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to launder money, money laundering, fraud, and conspiracy to make false instruments, and he was given a 13-year prison term.

Ibori, however, has returned to Nigeria after serving that term.

During Ibori’s time as Delta State’s governor, the Metropolitan Police looked into allegations of corruption and money laundering.

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The fraudulent sale and purchase of shares in Ibori’s mobile phone company, “V Mobile,” by Delta and Akwa Ibom states received particular attention.

Money was also found to have been laundered by Gohil through a myriad of offshore companies and bank accounts as well as UK-based entities, the NCA said.

Gohil was found to have helped Ibori hide his criminal proceeds and defraud the people of Delta State.

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