How do you turn an annual salary of $25,000 into a fortune worth more than $250 million? Become the governor of a Nigerian state
James Ibori, a former governor of one of Nigeria’s oil-producing states, has pleaded guilty in a UK court to 10 counts of money-laundering and conspiracy to defraud.
British police accuse him of stealing $250m (£160m) over eight years.
The prosecutor called him a “thief in government house”.
Ibori, once seen as one of Nigeria’s wealthiest and most influential politicians, was arrested in 2010 in Dubai and then extradited to London.
Some $35m of his alleged UK assets were frozen in 2007.
As his trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court was about to begin, Mr Ibori changed his plea to guilty and admitted stealing money from Delta state and laundering it in London through a number of offshore companies.
The BBC’s Chris Summers says between 20 and 30 of Mr Ibori’s supporters turned up to court - some wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Free Ibori”. There was not enough room for them all in the public gallery.
Prosecuting QC Sasha Wass said Mr Ibori, 53, had “tricked” his way into becoming Delta state governor, by giving a false date of birth and claiming he had no criminal record.
“He was never the legitimate governor and there was effectively a thief in government house. As the pretender of that public office, he was able to plunder Delta state’s wealth and hand out patronage.”
He is due to be sentenced on 16 April.