Ibori Assets Confiscation Trial: Oando hires Tony Blair’s Wife as Lawyer

Oando Plc, which is being linked by British prosecutors to funds stolen by jailed former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, has hired a top flight British lawyer, Mrs. Cherie Blair QC, to defend its interest in the case. 

According to Osun Defenders, Mrs. Cherie Blair QC is the wife of former British Prime Minister, Mr.Tony Blair. She has already been paid 200,000 pounds to take up the matter, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Yesterday, a London court heard how Ibori had claimed ownership of 30 per cent of Oando Plc, while opening an account with Swiss bank, PKB Privatbank, into which the company paid $1.2m, suspected to be looted funds in 2004.

Quoting from internal PKB documents, Wass told the court that Ibori had presented himself to the bank as the owner of an insurance company, half of a bank and 30 per cent of Oando.

She said that a total of $1.2m flowed into the PKB account from Oando in three payments that year, which had later been channeled to other accounts and were part of funds intended for the purchase of a $20m private jet.

Oando has however clarified that Ibori owned only 433 shares out of the company’s 6.8 billion issued shares and rejected allegations that the convicted governor had hidden assets in the company.

The court also heard that PKB Private bank had, in an internal document, likened Ibori, who governed oil producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007 and influenced national Nigerian politics, to a scion of the Kennedy dynasty in the United States.

“We could compare these families with the Kennedy dynasty, which also mixed business and politics,” the bank document said. Another excerpt said Ibori was “an extremely rich man as he was doing a lot of business before becoming governor".

Ibori was jailed for 13 years in Britain after pleading guilty in February 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering worth 50 million pounds ($79.5 million). Prosecutors say his total wealth was likely to be far greater than that and he could have hidden assets in the oil firm.

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