James Ibori: Asset Not Derived From Delta State Funds, Says Defence Counsel

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James-IboriJames Ibori: Asset Not Derived From Delta State Funds, Says Defence Counsel– The Asset Confiscation hearing brought against the former Governor of Delta State, Mr James Ononafe Ibori will resume on Monday with the case winding up for submission and judgment this week.

Defense counsel, Ivan Kronic last week intensified his efforts To prove that ex-governor Ibori’s influence in the Nigeria social circle started long before he became the governor of Delta  State.

The defense argument had come against the backdrop of the submission by the prosecution in the case wiring Ibori’s assets to Delta state sources, which the defense was standing against, and disproving that many of the assets of the ex governor were acquired during his tenure in office as the governor of Delta State.

As the three week long case continues to raise many questions which centers on the source of Ibori’s wealth, the prosecution are adamant to prove that the former governor acquired ill-gotten wealth by abusing his power as the governor of the oil rich Delta state.

During the hearing, it has been heard that  Ibori got his influence way back to the time when the former dictator, Sanni Abacha was Nigeria’s leader.

 Ivan Kronic, who is the lead counsel to the former Delta State Governor last week  put it to the court that in confiscation cases, the issue for consideration before the court was far from how assets have been acquired but about the sources of funds for the purchase of the asset.

He stated in court that when it comes to benefit in confiscation, it is not about what the defendant buys but the source of the money he had used to buy what had been bought.

Series of questions were put to DC Clark in relations to provenance of funds. These questions sought to show that funds were not derived from Delta State accounts in some of the assets the former governor owned up to.
Responding to these questions on sources of funds, all that Detective Counsel Peter Clark could say  was: “I agree, however, we were unable to ask Delta State government because Delta State was uncooperative’.

Last week, it also emerged that  the British police financial investigator looking into the money laundering case against Ibori  may have admitted that he has not been able to directly link the source of funds for the purchase of the alleged assets of James Ibori to Delta State accounts.

QC Krolic reading a section of DC Clarks statement that deals with the purchase of a Maybach vehicle, a car alleged to have been bought by James Ibori with Funds stolen from Delta State, said ‘the position of the defendant , James Ibori, is that, he admits purchasing the vehicle and that Stanhope is an account which he is a beneficial owner’. QC Krolic further stated ‘it is denied however that the funds going into Stanhope were funds directly or indirectly from Delta State’. He said ‘there is no evidence showing any payment from Delta State’.

Taking the Police investigator through various bank accounts and statements, QC Krolic stated ‘no money from Delta state is identified other than salary into GTB bank from the state.
Uncomfortable with the way QC Krolic’s cross examination was turning against the prosecution’s case, the crown prosecutor Sasha Wass interjected ‘Ibori has pleaded guilty to money laundering and defrauding Delta State, the crown has concerns as to why QC Krolic is going through these matters the way he is’.

CourtDetermined to prove that Mr Ibori’s alleged assets did not have their origin from money from Delta State, QC Krolic said ‘this is Ibori’s confiscation hearing in 2013 and the defence is entitled to ask how the prosecution qualify their case’. He said ‘there is a big difference between a conviction and criminal benefit in confiscation and the judge is here to consider the issue of criminal benefit’. Not done yet, QC Krolic said ‘this was the same thing that was considered in the case of Waya. It is the crown’s burden to prove the benefit. The court can’t just fill in the blanks with what happened at other trials‘.

In another development, during the hearing, the British police investigator, DC Peter  Clark had produced in his evidence another document he had tendered to be used by the prosecution against James Ibori. In the course of cross examination, the document which the Met investigating Officer had tendered as evidence obtained from Barclays Bank as statements dealing with the finances of Ken Oil and Gas was actually a faxed document obtained from Bhardresh Gohill of Arlington Sharmas Solicitors.

Reviewing the document in court, Ibori’s lead counsel, QC Krolic said ‘this document was faxed on 25th September’.

DC Clark ‘Yes’
QC Krolic ‘what is BBG/4370/115
DC Clark ‘BBG is Bhardresh Gohill’
QC Krolic ‘this document was not faxed from Barclays Bank, someone has written on it’
DC Clark ‘this was how it came from Barclays Bank’
QC Krolic ‘what you produced in evidence is a bundle of documents faxed from an unidentified source at about 1’0 Clock on 25th Sept’.
DC Clark ‘it came from Barclays’
QC Krolic ‘it is apparent this document has come from Arlington Sharmas, meanwhile you said this document came from Barclays’.
QC Krolic in his submission on the tendered document claimed to be from Barclays Bank which the prosecution has as evidence against James Ibori said ‘in fact, there is a schedule behind these documents produced by Arlington Sharmas. QC Krolik ‘This document does not support your assertion’.

It was apparent from cross examination that the Met Police officer may have obtained in the course of his investigation a document from ‘Bhradresh Gohill’s offices (Arlington Sharmas)  and had tendered the document in evidence as document obtained from Barclays Bank as part of evidence against James Ibori.

James Ibori’s lead counsel, QC Krolic, in the course of the crown prosecution’s reexamination had raised an objection to another attempt by the crown prosecutor, Sasha Wass to introduce a document in reexamination as part of the prosecution’s evidence against the former governor that he has hidden assets. The document from Edgeways Resources Ltd was not disclosed to the defence but the crown prosecutor had attempted to smuggle it into the case as evidence against Mr Ibori. In objection, QC Krolic said ‘this document should not be received in this case. This document is prejudicial, it makes no mention of Mr Ibori, it has not been disclosed to the defence. The prosecution can only raise a matter which has only been mentioned in the cross examination‘.  The judge, Anthony Pitts, ruling against the crown prosecution said ‘…it ought to be a document that should be disclosed…..it is quite clear it has not been disclosed….for that reason Mr Krolic i am with you’.

The judge’s ruling against the crown prosecution in this instance may clearly show that the crown prosecution may have been adopting several tactics to ambush James Ibori in this case to which for whatever reasons, he pleaded guilty to some of the charges.