James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State has been jailed to a total of 13 years for embezzling millions of US dollars of Nigerian public funds.
Ibori, 49, who had presidential aspirations - once worked as a cashier in a Ruislip hardware store. He siphoned off an estimated US$250million of state funds that should have been used to improve the life of his electorate, for his personal use.
The money was lavished on a portfolio of luxury houses, fleets of top-of-the-range cars, fees at some of the UK's most expensive boarding schools, first class travel, expensive hotels and even a US$20 million private jet. His monthly credit card bills alone amounted to around US$200,000 in personal spending.
In the first case of its kind, Ibori was arrested and prosecuted following a long-running investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Proceeds of Corruption Unit.
The unit is a unique specialist team investigating the activities of corrupt foreign officials otherwise known as Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) who seek to launder stolen assets from their own country in the United Kingdom.
The unit is funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID).
Ibori pleaded guilty to the offences listed above at Southwark Crown Court on 27th February 2012 and was remanded in custody for today's sentencing.
Welcoming today's sentence, Detective Superintendent Matt Parkes of the Metropolitan Police Service's Proceeds of Corruption Unit said: "We are pleased with today's sentence which marks the culmination of a seven year inquiry into James Ibori's corrupt activities. We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta State.
"It is always rewarding for anyone working on a proceeds of corruption case to know that the stolen funds they identify will eventually be returned to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world."
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "James Ibori's sentence sends a strong and important message to those who seek to use Britain as a refuge for their crimes.
"Corruption is a cancer in developing countries and the Coalition Government has a zero tolerance approach to it. We are committed to rooting out corruption where ever it is undermining development, and will help bring its perpetrators like Ibori to justice and return stolen funds to help the world's poorest."
The unit began investigating Ibori and his associates in 2005, whilst working alongside Nigeria's anti-corruption unit - The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ibori enjoyed immunity from prosecution in Nigeria until 2007, having served two terms as state governor for Delta State from 1999. Under Nigerian law politicians are granted immunity from prosecution while in power.
Nigerian-born Ibori moved to the UK in the 1980s where he married and set up home with his wife, Theresa Ibori, in Nower Hill, Pinner, Middlesex. He worked as a cashier at a building supplies outlet in Ruislip, Middlesex, earning around £5,000 a year.
In 1990, he and his wife were arrested and charged with stealing goods from the hardware store. They were later convicted and fined £300. A year later Ibori was again convicted of handling a stolen credit card and fined £100.
After moving back to Nigeria Ibori worked for President Sani Abacha's regime as a 'policy consultant' and entered the field of Nigerian politics, working his way up through the ranks of the ruling People's Democratic Party.
Ibori was elected to become the governor of Delta State, in 1999. In 2003, he was re-elected as governor for another four year term, having lied in declarations to the independent Nigerian Election Commission about his previous convictions and financial status.
During that time he systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world. His methods included the inflation of State contracts, kickbacks and the straight lift of cash from the State accounts by unscrupulous employees in his inner circle.
He was helped by family members, including his wife Theresa, sister Christine Ibori-Ibie, his mistress Udoamaka Oniugbo, and a series of corrupt professionals - a UK London based lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, a fiduciary agent, Daniel Benedict McCann, a corporate financier, Lambertus De Boer. All of them have been tried and sentenced in the UK courts.
Bhadresh Gohil, a well-connected London based lawyer set up a myriad of offshore companies, provided false due diligence and acted as Ibori's de facto banker. He also assisted with the proposed purchase of an executive jet using stolen funds through a convoluted series of transactions involving a number of shell companies.
A major breakthrough in the case came when officers from New Scotland Yard found two computer hard drives secreted in his Central London office. When examined the full extent of Ibori's criminality began to unravel.
Enquiries revealed that Ibori used the money to buy a host of assets in the UK and Africa.