Ibori has no hidden assets in Oando, Company says

James Ibori17 September 2013, Lagos – Former Governor of Delta State James Ibori has no hidden assets in Oando Plc, the company said.

It said the ex-governor has insignificant shares in it and it has not been involved in money laundering.

Oando’s Corporate Communications Manager, Alero Balogun, said the company is a publicly traded one, therefore, the management doesn’t control transactions on the floor of the stock exchange.

She said: “We state categorically that Mr. James Ibori does not own ‘a large part of Oando’ and that this statement is incorrect and misleading. Oando is a publicly traded company listed on the Nigerian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges and does not and cannot control the trading in its securities on the floor of the respective exchanges.

“Based on our current shareholding register, Mr. James Ibori’s shareholding stands at 443 shares out of a total issued and paid up share capital of 6.8 billion ordinary shares, which is clearly insignificant, and cannot be considered as ‘a large part of Oando.”

Oando also stated that “it does accept that sometime in 2004, in the normal course of its business, it sold some of its foreign exchange earnings for Naira and the recipient of the US Dollars was a company which has now turned out to be one controlled by James Ibori. At the time of the transaction, this information was unknown to Oando. The total amount was US$2.7 million made in three separate transactions over a period of about seven months. This amount was insignificant considering the company’s turnover of approximately US$800million in 2004.

“The above constitutes the only transactions between Oando and any company controlled by Mr. Ibori. Consequently, Oando cannot be described as a company where James Ibori has hidden assets as a result of these foreign exchange transactions.”

Commenting on the statements made in court, Andrew Baillie QC, counsel representing Oando also stated outside the courtroom: “It is unfortunate that our client has been dragged into these proceedings. There is no suggestion from the prosecution of any wrongdoing or involvement in wrongdoing on the part of Oando.”

It said that Ibori, who governed Delta State from 1999 to 2007 and influenced national politics, was jailed for 13 years in Britain after pleading guilty in February 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering worth 50 million pounds ($79 million).

A three-week confiscation hearing began at London’s Southwark Crown Court yesterday during which prosecutors will present evidence of Ibori’s assets and seek court orders to have them seized. Defence lawyers will dispute the prosecution case.

– The Nation

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