Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

London — A former Goldman Sachs Group investment banker convicted of laundering money for a Nigerian official has been ordered to pay £7.3m within three months or face a 10-year jail sentence.

A court in London made a confiscation order on Monday against Ellias Nimoh Preko for laundering millions of dollars for James Ibori, the former governor of Nigeria’s Delta state, the UK’s national crime agency (NCA) said in a statement on Friday.

“Professional enablers such as Ellias Preko, who use their legitimate position within the finance industry to conceal the illicit funds of criminals and corrupt elites, are the linchpin of the billions of dollars laundered through the UK each year,” according to Kim Kitney, head of financial investigations for the NCA.

A lawyer who acted for Preko as recently as 2018 said he no longer represents him and could not share his former client’s details.

The amount of the confiscation order is far higher than those imposed on bankers convicted of insider trading and market manipulation. Former Citigroup trader Tom Hayes, who was found guilty of masterminding a sprawling rate-rigging conspiracy, was told to pay just £880,000. Former Deutsche Bank star trader Christian Bittar, who was jailed on similar grounds, paid £2.5m. Former Deutsche Bank insider trading convict Martyn Dodgson had to pay £1.1m.

Preko, a Ghanaian national who dealt with West African clients for Goldman Sachs, left the investment bank in 2001 when it refused to act for Ibori, who was then the governor of the oil rich province, “due to suspicions and risk” associated with him, the NCA said. Preko then started working with Ibori personally and set up a number of corporate vehicles in which Ibori received $3.9m in funds stolen from Delta state, the agency said.

In 2012, Ibori, who was in office from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty in a London court to 10 counts of fraud and money laundering involving sums of at least £50m. He served half of a 13-year prison sentence.

In 2013, Preko was convicted of two counts of money laundering and later sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail. Ibori’s wife, mistress, sister and a lawyer were also convicted in the UK for assisting the politician’s corruption.