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- Published on Monday, 06 December 2010 16:21
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Ibori's London lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, this morning at the Southwark Crown Court in London entered a guilty plea on the first day of his trial over the V-Mobile shares scam. Gohil’s friends and family at the Southwark Crown Court were stunned at the new development since the lawyer has always insisted
that the Crown’s case is entirely based upon presumptions and a number of the presumptions are built upon other presumptions.
However, speaking to elombah.com a friend of the Gohil family said having lost two earlier cases; he is not willing to go through the third trial. “its traumatic to him, he is despondent, he had a sound lawyer in the last case and lost, you know what it costs to hire a barrister per hour, that man could no longer afford his office in high brow Central London, he had to move to a smaller office, and Ibori abandoned him to his fate”.
Moreover, other sources say Gohil may have succumbed to pressure after a team of the UK police landed in Mumbai, India over the weekend to investigate another Hawala money-laundering scam. "The UK Police was in India earlier this year to probe a multi-money-laundering scam allegaedly started by Bhadresh Gohil". Elombah.com was told Gohil was accused of siphoning off funds from the UK and Nigeria through hawala networks and then buying properties in Mumbai with the money.
Mr. Gohil was arraigned on charges of being accessory to a scheme that enabled former governors, Mr. James Ibori of Delta state, Victor Obong Attah of Akwa Ibom state; the former Principal Secretary to Umaru Yar'Adua, David Edevbie;, Love Ojakovo, a former commissioner of finance to Ibori and a business associate of Ibori, Henry Imashekka to steal funds that accrued from the sale of V-Mobile shares belonging to the two states.
Arguing in Gohils defence, Gohil's Laywer friend told elombah.com that using some of these presumptions the investigating officers with the Metropolitan Police have leapt to some unjustifiable conclusions without any foundations or basis for same. Simultaneously the investigating officers appear to have suppressed and ignored evidence that contradicts or undermines their own case. In applying this approach the investigators have drawn time lines that are misleading and consequently distort the true facts within this matter.
The lawyer said: The three Crown’s cases centres upon Bhadresh Gohil’s business with James Ibori the elected Governor of Delta State in Nigeria. The initial Metropolitan Police investigation was in respect of allegations that James Ibpri had been corrupt and stolen public funds from Delta State. The Government of Nigeria have informed the Crown and the Metropolitan Police that having conducted an audit there are no public funds missing from Delta State.
The Metropolitan Police Investigation has had a high profile and was funded by central government. Having been unable to charge JI, the investigators have turn to others and applied weak charges without the evidence required to support same. In applying these charges the Metropolitan Police are seeking justify their actions and the considerable expense of this ongoing investigation. There is undoubtedly a sense of frustration in the Metropolitan Police and perhaps central government and this frustration has manifested itself in charges against Gohil.
One of the cornerstones of the Crown’s case is that the value of the funds alone leads to an irresistible inference that they represent the proceeds of crime, even though their own enquires have established that the majority of the funds originate from the oil business, the richest business in the world. There is no evidence provided to justify this assertion, there is no evidence of the context of the value of the funds.
The Lawyer insisted that Bhdresh Gohil has conducted enhanced due diligence, he has travelled to Nigeria and met with James Ibori in his opulent residence, for Gohil the value of the funds is entirely in keeping with his understanding of his client’s wealth.
After analysis of their investigation the Metropolitan Police and the Crown preferred five charges against BG as above.
Mr. Gohil, who had already been convicted on other counts of money laundering in collaboration with Ibori's wife, Theresa Nkoyo, surprised legal observers when he choose to plead guilty rather than undergoing another grueling prosecution.
Two others Lambertus De Boer, and Daniel McCann were in court and pleaded not guilty. The accused face 14 counts of forgery and money laundering in relation to the sale of V-Mobile telecoms shares by two Nigerian States: Akwa Ibom State and Delta, in which $37.8 million was stolen.
The accused men used front companies to defraud the Nigerian states of the said amount. In particular, a company, "Africa Development Finance Co." was named as the major conduit. In instances cited in the case summary, an $11 million loan was purportedly granted to an aviation company that assisted Mr. Ibori in purchasing a jet from Canada; $10 million was given to "Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited", the company that Ibori used to purchase Wilbros; and another $790,000 was granted to another fake firm "Africa Development Co." and an offshore nominee concern. The charges of forgery concern Mr. DeBoer and Mccan.
They were accused of violating the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act of the UK by creating fake documents between Delta State and Africa Finance Ltd, and also Delta and African Development Company. They are also accused of creating a false account which shows both men as beneficiaries, in order to hide the fraudulent nature of the transactions.
An Indian Lawyer insisted that the Met Police acted “unlawfully” in seeking Arlingtons Sharmas client files in relation to Ibori. He reminded elombah.com of an earlier forceful ruling HHJ ruled the actions of the Police officers being illegal and unlawful, declaring that they abused their powers. DC Ben Irons was singled out for criticism and was refused permission to give evidence. Fundamentally, this is a damming indictment of the Police behaviour and ethics. HHJ Hardy warned the Police of the extensive damages that follow as a consequence of their actions. The likelihood of damages is considerable and in an effort to limit these, DC Irons it is believed immediately returned all items to Arlingtons Sharmas. Questions as to the officer’s conduct will certainly be the cause of an urgent review by senior officers.
Reminded that two earlier juries have found the accused guilty as charged he countered that earlier revelations have confirmed that an police forensic investigator, Mr Mitchinson was manipulated by the Police in the preparation of his report. It is clear that the report was “coached” by the Police and the issue of “backdating” has now scientifically collapsed. This shocking development has caused the Police to re-appraise it evidence. It is believed that the Police have misled a number of former Arlingtons Sharma solicitors, in particular Vickesh Bandymandhub and Mishail Dusad in an attempt to persuade them to give favourable statements. What is becoming clearer is the gross abuse of power by the Police and an absolute absence of adherence to pre-established protocols and lawful practice. Certain solicitors were also threatened with sanctions such as conspiracy in another shocking revelation.
"As far as the Metropolitan Police and the Crown Prosecution Service are concerned, any UK solicitor that acts on behalf of a Nigerian client with money is de facto acting for a criminal and therefore all financial transactions are potentially fraudulent regardless of the evidence that is produced to the contrary. Furthermore, even if the source of James Ibori’s funds were declared illegitimate, it is beyond a solicitor’s professional duty to be held responsible, having complied with his ‘due diligence’ requirements and ‘know your client formalities’; a fully substantiated fact that the prosecution ignore in the proceedings.
Just as Bhadresh Gohil is being used as a scapegoat for a political battle that is out of the hands of UK authorities, today he represents every lawyer in the UK that must fight to defend their liberties and rights against the injustices of the system.
He insists the issues of financial crime is not suited for trial by jury who often are biased against Black persons. He told elombah.com that the Law Society has made representations to the legal obligations of UK Solicitors to the House of Lords for an urgent change in the law to bring the UK in line with other European countries, in so far as solicitors being held accountable in these circumstances. In Europe legal practitioners cannot be prosecuted for their clients matters.
Civil Liberties Group have also condemned the police actions as a gross abuse of process. The Group has made representations to the Law Society, he said.