Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli explains why the case is an example of the UK's toughened-up confiscation regime.

A former investment banker who laundered money for a Nigerian state governor has been ordered to pay back £7.3M or face an extra 10 years in prison.

Elias Preko, 60, was jailed for four and a half years in 2013 after admitting laundering money that James Ibori had stolen from NIgeria. Southwark Crown Court has now told Preko he must repay the £7.3M within three months or serve an extra decade behind bars. The confiscation order follows an investigation by the UK's National Crime Agency into Ghanaian Preko; who left Goldman Sachs in 2001 when it refused to act on behalf of Ibori due to suspicions about him. Preko took on Ibori as a client and helped him channel £3.2M in stolen money through offshore trusts and shell companies.

Ibori was an influential governor in Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. He fled to Dubai to escape corruption charges but was extradited to London in 2011 and then jailed for 13 years after admitting laundering £50M. Preko was the fifth associate of Ibori to be jailed for assisting him in his corrupt activities.

The cases were tried in London because some of the money was laundered in Britain and some defendants were based there. 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.

Read more about Confiscation: The Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002.

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