Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is believed to have been hired to defend Oando Plc in the case involving former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, who is currently serving a jail term in the United Kingdom. Blair, an attorney, was said to have been paid 200,000 pounds deposit for the case. Ibori allegedly told a Swiss private bank in 2004 that he owned 30 percent of Oando, which paid $1.2 million into his account that year, a prosecutor told a British court.
However, the Group Managing Director of Oando, Mr. Wale Tinubu, denied that Ibori owned 30 per cent shares in the company, explaining that Oando’s has over 6.8 billion shares, with over 300,000 shareholders, while Ibori’s equity interest remained insignificant.
Investors reacted to the stock on the Nigerian Stock Exchange yesterday as Oando led on the losers’ table with N1.15 or 10 per cent depreciation. From its opening value of N11.50, it closed trading at N10.35 per share.
Details of Ibori’s assets and how he kept them hidden from the public gaze through a web of shell companies and foreign bank accounts were being disclosed as part of a three-week confiscation hearing, which began in London. Prosecutor Sasha Wass told Southwark Crown Court that in 2004, Ibori had opened an account at Lugano-based PKB in the name of a shell company called Stanhope Investments.
Quoting from internal PKB documents, Wass told the court that Ibori had presented himself to the bank as the owner of an insurance company, half of a bank and 30 percent of Oando. She said that a total of $1.2 million flowed into the PKB account from Oando in three payments that year which had later been channelled to other accounts and were part of funds intended for the purchase of a $20 million private jet.