With a banker facing an extra decade in jail if he does not comply with a confiscation order, Nicola Sharp of Rahman Ravelli outlines some of the issues involved in such cases.
A former investment banker who laundered money for a Nigerian state governor has to repay £7.3M or face an extra 10 years in jail.
Elias Preko was jailed for four and a half years after admitting laundering money that James Ibori stole from Nigeria. Southwark Crown Court has told Preko he must repay the £7.3M within three months or serve an extra decade behind bars.
An investigation by the UK’s National Crime Agency into 60-year-old Ghanaian Preko led to the confiscation order against him. Preko left Goldman Sachs in 2001 when it would not act for Ibori because of suspicions about the origins of his wealth. He took on Ibori on as a client and assisted with the moving of £3.2M in stolen money through trusts and shell companies.
Ibori, a governor in Nigeria from 1999 to 2007, fled to Dubai to escape corruption charges before being extradited to London in 2011 and jailed for 13 years after admitting laundering £50M. Preko is the fifth associate of Ibori to be jailed for assisting him. Confiscation proceedings against Ibori in the UK are ongoing.
As a case, this highlights the reach of the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), which was amended by the Serious Crime Act 2015 to strengthen the sentences that can be imposed for failure to pay a confiscation order.
While Preko could face an extra ten years in jail for failing to repay the money, that sentence could have been larger. In cases such as Preko’s, where the confiscation order was for an amount in excess of £1M, the maximum default sentence is now 14 years, whereas before the Serious Crime Act it was 10 years.
The 2015 Act also reduced the time that the courts can give offenders to pay confiscation orders; reducing it from six months to three months. Courts have the discretion to extend this period if the defendant is able to show that, despite all reasonable efforts, they are unable to pay. But the maximum amount of additional time that can be granted has also been cut: from 12 months to 6 months.
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Read about Anti-Money Laundering Investigations, Confiscation Solicitors.