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UK's fight against corruption boosts world's poorest people

Millions of pounds stolen by a corrupt Nigerian politician will be returned to the country's poorest people following a ground-breaking investigation

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Millions of pounds stolen by a corrupt Nigerian politician will be returned to the country’s poorest people, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said today.

James Ibori, 49, admitted stealing from the very people he was elected to serve after a ground-breaking investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Proceeds of Corruption Unit (POCU).

Uniquely among aid agencies, the Department for International Development (DFID) funds the specialist team.

This is part of the Coalition Government’s commitment to tackle corruption in the developing world involving British citizens, companies or financial institutions.

Ibori, former governor of Nigeria, embezzled what the Met estimates to be $250 million (approximately £157 million) of Nigerian public funds - equal to £38 from every person living in the state at the time of his crimes.

No British aid was compromised, but his crimes have had a devastating effect on his fellow Nigerians as the money was meant to be spent on vital services. For example, it could have provided books, uniforms and education for 400,000 girls or hand pumps to provide clean water for 450,000 households.

DFID will lead a process to arrange for the funds that have been recovered to be returned to those most in need in Nigeria.

Ibori’s guilty plea comes after a long-running investigation by the POCU, which investigates allegations of foreign corrupt politicians and officials laundering the proceeds of corruption through the UK.

DFID also funds the work of the City of London Police’s Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit, which investigates allegations of UK citizens and companies being involved in overseas corruption, especially foreign bribery.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said:

“Corruption is a cancer in developing countries and the Coalition Government has a zero tolerance approach to it.

“We are committed to rooting out corruption where ever it is undermining development, and will help bring its perpetrators like Ibori to justice and return stolen funds to help the world’s poorest.

“Our work with both the Metropolitan and City of London Police is an example of how the Coalition Government’s innovative and collaborative approach is making a real difference.

“Funding investigations such as these helps to recover valuable stolen funds which can be returned to Nigeria to be used for development.

“Doing this is making a major contribution to Nigeria’s development, on a scale far in excess of the cost of the investigation itself. It is good value for Nigeria and for the British taxpayer.”

Read the full press release

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Published 27 February 2012