Nigerian politician's sister convicted

2010-06-03 07:02

London - A British court has convicted a Nigerian woman of money-laundering in a case that could complicate the affairs of her brother, a powerful politician who is wanted over similar allegations in both Britain and Nigeria.

Christine Ibori-Ibie was convicted on three counts of money-laundering at Southwark Crown Court in London on Tuesday, a court official said on Wednesday.

She was also found guilty of five charges of obtaining or attempting to obtain property transfers by deceit. Sentencing was scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Two other associates of James Ibori, the former governor of an oil-producing Nigerian state, were on trial alongside his sister. One of them was acquitted on one count while the trial continues for the second.

The conviction of his sister comes at a sensitive time for Ibori, who was arrested in Dubai last month on an Interpol warrant, according to Nigeria's anti-corruption agency.

Ibori is a powerful member of the Elders' Committee of the ruling party in Nigeria and his successful prosecution, at home or abroad, would be seen as a significant victory in the fight against corruption by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service, which wants to question Ibori in connection with alleged money-laundering, declined to say whether it had sent a formal extradition request to Dubai.

Passport seized

The authorities in the emirate said on May 13 that Ibori had been released from custody, but his passport had been seized. Police said they were expecting his case file to be sent from Britain.

A British court froze $35m of Ibori's assets in August 2007 on suspicion they were the proceeds of corruption. Ibori has not been charged in that case.

Nigeria's anti-corruption police tried to arrest Ibori last month to question him over allegations that $290m was looted from Delta state government coffers while he was governor from 1999 to 2007.

But a violent crowd prevented police from arresting him in his home town in southern Nigeria.