FORMER Goldman Sachs banker Elias Preko who was described as the linchpin in the money laundering schemes of former Delta State governor Chief James Ibori has been ordered to return £7.3m or face 10 years in prison.
Mr Preko, 60, a Harvard-trained banker, who managed Chief Ibori’s operations, was jailed four-and-a-half years in 2013, has been told her must return the money within three months or face a further 10 years in jail. Last week, Southwark Crown Court in London gave the ruling following an investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
UK authorities are processing the confiscation of the assets owned by Chief Ibori, who was sentenced to 13 years in jail by a UK court after he admitted to laundering £50m stolen from the treasury of Delta State in 2011. He was released in 2016 and has since returned to Nigeria where he is still a major kingmaker in his native Delta State.
Mr Preko was one of four persons convicted alongside Chief Ibori for his grand money laundering schemes alongside Mrs Ibori, the governor’s mistress, his sister and his lawyer.
Mr 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 Chief Ibori due to suspicions and risk.
Kim Kitney, the NCA’s head of financial investigations, 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 lynchpins of the billions of dollars laundered through the UK each year. 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.”
After Mr Preko left the bank, he took on Chief Ibori as his client, helping him move £3.2m in stolen funds through a web of offshore trusts and shell companies. Chief 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 but was arrested and extradited to London in 2011 where he admitted to laundering.