Former Goldman Sachs banker, Mr. Elias Preko, was sentenced to
four-and-a-half years in prison by a London court on Monday for
laundering $5m on behalf of James Ibori, the former governor of Delta
Ibori is serving 13 years in a British jail after pleading guilty last
year to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering.
He is the most senior Nigerian politician to be held to account for
the corruption that has blighted Africa's most populous country and
top oil producer, where the case is being closely watched.
Harvard graduate Preko, 54, became the fifth of Ibori's associates to
be jailed for assisting his corruption after the ex-governor's wife,
mistress, sister and lawyer were all convicted by British courts in
The cases have been tried in London because some of the money was
laundered in Britain and some of the defendants were based there.
Attempts by Nigeria's own anti-corruption agency to prosecute Ibori,
dating back to 2007, have foundered.
A jury at London's Southwark Crown Court unanimously convicted Preko,
a Ghanaian national, of two offences of money-laundering between March
2003 and April 2008 when he was arrested.
He was charged with assisting Ibori in channelling stolen money
through a web of offshore trusts and shell companies.
Preko had left Goldman Sachs before he committed the offences and the
bank is not accused of any wrongdoing. The court heard that Preko
tried to open accounts on Ibori's behalf when he still worked there
but this was not authorised by the bank.
The Delta governor from 1999 to 2007, Ibori was in his heyday a power
broker at the heart of Nigeria's ruling party. After he left office
and lost immunity from prosecution, his fortunes ebbed and flowed
according to political developments in Abuja until he was extradited
from Dubai to Britain in 2011.
"The evidence against you in this case was very clear. You knew what
Mr. Ibori was doing and you were actively assisting him," Judge
Anthony Pitts told Preko in his sentencing remarks.
"You are a man of considerable ability and intelligence, highly
educated, capable of making lots of money perfectly legitimately."
The court had heard that in a decade at Goldman Sachs, where he was in
charge of private clients in sub-Sahara Africa, Preko had made $12m in
salary and received a severance payment of $3m when he left the bank.
"You had the ability to walk away (from Ibori). You chose to involve
yourself with him as a professional man, against the code of
upstanding conduct for men in your position," Pitts said.