Former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori
The London-based lawyer of the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, Mr. Bhadresh Gohil, has appealed his conviction by the English court.
Gohil was jailed for 10 years in 2010 for helping Ibori stash £50 million in bank accounts around the world.
Gohil has now lodged grounds of appeal after the London-based Evening Standard’s investigation revealed claims of corruption during the probe by Scotland Yard’s SCD6 unit into him and Ibori matter.
The paper had disclosed that last year, the Metropolitan Police was investigating claims that serving officers were bribed with up to £20,000 to leak sensitive information from the ongoing criminal investigation into Ibori activities.
Leaked invoices suggested that Gohil hired private detectives from Mayfair-based agency, RISC to obtain information from the police that would help his defence lawyers.
In May, two senior RISC employees, both former Met officers, were arrested on suspicion of bribing a police officer. Both men deny the charges.
Gohil is using the allegations to appeal against his sentence on money laundering charges, while Scotland Yard is investigating the possibility that the corruption claims were manufactured.
Ibori, who admitted money laundering and corruption and was jailed for 13 years at Southwark Crown Court in April, is also using the claims to try to reduce the length of his sentence.
Both he and Gohil are also fighting asset confiscation hearings relating to millions of pounds worth of property.
Ibori, a former cashier at a Wickes DIY store in Ruislip, became governor of the oil-rich Delta State in 1999 after serving two terms which ended in 2007.
He was jailed for channelling state funds into his bank accounts to buy cars and a property portfolio that included four homes in Britain.
His regime is thought to have defrauded the Nigerian people of £157 million, including his personal share of £50 million, laundered in London via offshore companies.
In a further twist, Gohil also claimed he had discovered that one of the jurors deciding his case was a “senior employee of the Department for International Development,” – the Whitehall department which funded the Met’s SCD6 investigation into Ibori activities.
A spokesman for the department said: “We cannot comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”