UK sends $5.97 million of jailed politician's stolen assets to Nigeria

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FILE PHOTO: James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's Delta State, speaks after a court hearing outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London

ABUJA (Reuters) - The British government has sent Nigeria 4.2 million pounds ($5.97 million) recovered from a former state governor who was jailed for laundering money in Britain, the West African country said on Tuesday.

James Ibori, who was governor of the southern oil-producing Delta State from 1999 to 2007, pleaded guilty at London's Southwark Crown Court in 2012 to 10 counts of fraud and money-laundering. He received a 13-year sentence.

The 4.2 million pounds was stolen by Ibori and his associates but retrieved through operations led by British law enforcement agencies, who identified assets bought in Britain with illicit funds, the Foreign Office in London has said.

A spokesman for Nigeria's attorney general confirmed the money had been received.

The two countries established a memorandum of understanding providing a framework for the return of stolen assets to Nigeria in 2016.

Ibori returned to Nigeria in 2017. His arrival was met with celebration in his native south, where he remains popular.

($1 = 0.7041 pounds)

(Reporting by Camillus Eboh; Additional reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Writing by Paul Carsten)

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