Thursday, April 19, 2012

UK banks aided Nigerian money launderer

Richard Murphy alerts us to a press release from Global Witness:
Global Witness calls for a thorough investigation into HSBC, Citibank and Abbey National (now owned by Santander) for their roles in the laundering of millions of pounds by James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State. Ibori pleaded guilty to ten counts of money laundering and fraud in relation to an estimated $250 million of stolen state assets on 27 February; today was the first day of his sentencing hearing.
... Ibori, who was governor of Delta State from 1999 to 2007, inflated government contracts, accepted kickbacks and even directly stole funds from state coffers.
...According to the prosecutor, Sasha Wass QC, Ibori and his associates used multiple accounts at Barclays, HSBC, Citibank and Abbey National to launder funds. Millions of pounds passed through these accounts in total, some of which were used to purchase expensive London property."
The U.S. is also implicated:
"In America Ibori held two accounts at Citibank and ran up a $920,000 American Express credit bill between 2003 and 2006. He bought a $1.8 million house in Houston, as well as moving at least $500,000 through his lawyer's client account at the now-defunct AIDT bank in Denver, Colorado."
Global Witness is involved because they are a prime mover in the tax transparency movement, and they point to the Ibori situation as a reason why governments need to advise their securities laws to force companies to disclose their beneficial ownership, among other items.

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