The Strength of his Convictions


A man walks past a banner featuring Nigeria's currency, the naira. / REUTERS
On Monday, James Ibori, the former governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a London Court. On Thursday, he said he didn’t mean it.

Ibori said he admitted guilt not because he was guilty, but only as a plea bargain that would avoid a trial and spare Nigeria’s name from being sullied in court. quotes Ibori’s attorney as saying that the plea was not really an admission of guilt, nor a turnaround from Ibori’s previous full-throated denial of the 10 charges against him–all related to corruption.

“The world was made to believe that Ibori’s guilty plea was a sudden turnaround,” said his attorney Tony Eluemunor, “and not a well-deliberated act that as part of a plea bargain deal.” His client admitted guilt only because “Ibori did not want a long-drawn trial where Nigeria’s name would be bandied about in a foreign court.”

Ibori was a powerful figure, well-known in Nigeria for living large on oil wealth in an otherwise dirt-poor

James Ibori / REUTERS
state. As governor from 1999 to 2007, Ibori’s official salary was less than $25,000 a year, but he managed to buy six houses in London, including one that he purchased for $3.5 million in cash. He will be sentenced at a later date. Ibori was arrested while on a trip to Dubai in May 2010 and extradited to London a year later.

If Ibori was so concerned about protecting the good name of Nigeria, perhaps he might have refrained from the actions that led to his guilty plea this week.

Sweep to Nigeria: I didn’t plead guilty to corruption charges

The Feds are coming after the crooked officials in Detroit, and there are plenty to go after.

The FBI office in Detroit, which now considers public corruption its top priority after terrorism, announced it was setting up a special task force, along with other federal state and local law enforcement agencies, to go after public corruption in the Detroit area.

The agents won’t have to look far. For them, Detroit is a target-rich environment. Various investigations have already resulted in numerous criminal charges against former Detroit officials, including the former mayor and city council members, officials in City Hall and at the city’s pension fund and others in the Wayne County government.

At a press conference, Andrew Arena, the head of the Detroit FBI, said that the “task force will leverage the best assets of the partners to better focus on the problem.”

“We’re at an opportunity point to really do some damage,” he added.

He was joined in the announcement by the state’s attorney general and top officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the IRS, EPA, Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Department and other agencies.

With Detroit’s auto industry in a turnaround, perhaps it is time for a turnaround in the quality of the city’s public officials.

Sweep to FBI unveils corruption task force in Metro Detroit

In the waning days of his tenure as Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Donald Tsang is having to defend himself against corruption charges that include overseas trips on the yachts and jets of businessmen.

Tsang, 67, is about to step down after six years in office. Rather than ending on a high note, he is facing an investigation by the city’s anti-corruption bureau, which is looking into the ties between politicians and local businessmen.

The trips took place late last year and Tsang has made a public apology, according to Bloomberg.  The front-runner to replace him in a March 25 election is Henry Tang, his former deputy, who is embroiled in a scandal of his own over building a basement without government permission.

The corruption investigation is the first ever into the chief executive of Hong Kong and threatens to shake public confidence. Tsang addressed that concern in his remarks.

“The chain of events has created worries among the media and public, civil servants and lawmakers and also shaken the public’s belief in Hong Kong’s system,” said Tsang.  “For this, I sincerely apologize to the public.”

Sweep to H.K. Tsang seeks to restore trust

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne, former senior editor at 100Reporters, is an award-winning business reporter, formerly at The New York Times. Ms. Wayne joined The Times in 1981 and has covered Wall Street, banking industry regulatory reform, municipal finance scandals and, most recently, the aerospace and military industries. Ms. Wayne has an M.B.A. in finance from Columbia Business School and was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economic Journalism.