Former Goldman Sachs Banker, Elias Preko, who was described as the linchpin in the money laundering schemes of James Ibori, former governor of Delta State has been ordered by a court in the UK, to return £7.3 million or be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Concise News understands that the ruling comes as the UK authorities are processing the confiscation of the assets owned by Ibori, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail by a UK court after he admitted to laundering £50 million stolen from the treasury of Delta State in 2011.
Ibori was released in 2016 and has since returned to Nigeria where he is still a major kingmaker in his native Delta State.
According to the UK Independent Newspaper report last week, the Southwark Crown Court ruled that Elias Preko, a 60-year-old, Harvard-trained banker, who managed Ibori’s money laundering operations and was jailed four and a half years in 2013, must return the money within three months or face another 10 years in jail.
Preko was one of four persons convicted alongside Ibori for his grand money laundering schemes. Others who were convicted included, Ibori’s wife, his mistress, sister, and lawyer.
The order followed an investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
According to the agency’s head of financial investigations, Kim Kitney said “Professional enablers such as Elias Preko, who use their legitimate position within the finance industry to conceal the illicit funds of criminals and corrupt elites, are the lynchpin of the billions of dollars laundered through the UK each year.”
Preko, a Ghanaian, who was in-charge of West African clients for Goldman Sachs in London, left the bank in 2001after it refused to accept deposits from Ibori due to “suspicions and risk”, the NCA said.
After Preko left the bank, he took on Ibori as his client, helping him move £3.2 million in stolen funds through a web of offshore trusts and shell companies.
Ibori, who was elected governor of Delta State, between 1999 and 2007, fled to Dubai to escape being arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) but was arrested and extradited to London in 2011 where he admitted to laundering the amount a judge described as “ludicrously low.”
Ms Kitney said: “Pursuing, prosecuting and making them pay is a priority for the NCA and we will continue to target these corrupt individuals to drive illicit finance out of the UK.”