The defence lawyer representing former Delta State governor, James Ibori in the confiscation of assets hearing, today in London insisted that his client did not receive a penny from V-Mobile account as alleged by the prosecuting team.
Ivan Krolick during his submission took hours trying to convince the court that out of the £37 million connected to V-Mobile which the prosecution team said Ibori’s benefit from, that there is no evidence that the money was paid into his account.
During the submission on V-Mobile, only the name of Ibori’s former solicitor and his former commissioner of Finance, Mr Bhadresh Gohil and David Edevbie respectively reverberated in the court. He insisted that Ibori only approved documents relating to V-Mobile.
He also told the court that even when a financial forensic expert was invited to the court and was cross-examined by both the defence and the prosecuting teams, there was no trace of Delta State money connected to Ibori’s benefit. The defence lawyer said their case was so clear because the forensic expert dealt with the issue of Delta State money in detail.
Krolick constantly reminded the court that the case now is a ‘pure law’ of money laundering, unlike trial issues. He said confiscation trial is a quantitative case and not because he pleaded guilty is enough for confiscation. “We said no, this is not so. This is not being ambushed,” Krolick said.
Another issue that dominated Krolick’s submission was the introduction of ‘assumption’ which the prosecuting team had prayed the court late last year to apply on some of Ibori’s loots including the £89 million as against limiting it to £330, 000 and £25,000 on Abbey Road management fees – one of Ibori’s property.
The issue of assumption which QC Shasha Wass introduced in the case is a criminal justice act of 1988 (as amended), seeking section 72AA of proceeds of crime act 1995 to establish Ibori benefits and possible forfeiture.
Krolick persistently argued that to make assumptions on the whole £89 million instead of the two items was what they are also against. But the prosecution team in their earlier submission said Ibori had not discharged the honour of proof regarding his income, but again we are arguing that they had enough time to bring in their witnesses, but could not, he said.
He told the judge that there was nothing pointing to the fact that they had deviated from their stand or amount to any surprise in this case relating to their skeletal argument.
Again, he reminded the Judge that the prosecution team could not say that they were unaware of their stand in this case; that all that was needed was evidence linking Ibori with what they are asking for. He said portraying Ibori as the master and Gohil as servant was not enough reason to link whatever Gohil had committed as part of Ibori’s deed.
“Your honour, sometime last year, you said the introduction of assumption by the prosecuting team is like not only removing the goal post, but removing the entire pitch,” Krolick told Judge Pitt.
The defence went further to say that in all their submissions, they had never asked for evidence of guilt, but evidence of obtaining benefits, saying that they are only concerned with what Ibori obtained. “But for the prosecuting team to ask for evidence is also what we are not happy with.”
The court will likely sit on Wednesday, though subject to confirmation.