Money launderer jailed in UK

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Money launderer swaps high life for jail cell after £1m Nigerian scam exposed
RAYMOND HAINEY , The Scotsman, 5 April 2007

JOYCE Oyebanjo lived the high life with her cut from the £1 million-plus that she laundered through her UK bank accounts for a corrupt Nigerian politician.

The Fife-born council housing official was given "large sums of cash", holidays and clothes by Joshua Dariye, a former Nigerian state governor, in return for helping him rob his country's treasury.

But yesterday, Oyebanjo's luxury lifestyle ended when a court sentenced her to three years in prison for laundering between £1.2 million and £1.5 million for Dariye, who has since gone on the run.

The judge, Nicholas Loraine-Smith, told her: "We are talking about enormous sums of money here and a corrupt politician abroad trying, as many do, to use this country for laundering.

"For some years, you were cleaning up these very large sums sent over here by Dariye. It is difficult to quantify how much you benefited, as your own evidence is unreliable, but it seems there were clothes, holidays and large sums of cash."

A jury at Southwark Crown Court in London dismissed Oyebanjo's defence that she thought Dariye, who was governor of Platau state in Nigeria, was extremely wealthy and that she had no idea the cash was stolen.

The court heard that on one of Dariye's frequent trips to London, Oyebanjo wrote cheques for £100,000 to him and his wife in the space of two days.

She also used cash from the accounts to pay fees at an exclusive public school she had selected for Dariye's children and to meet hospital and air-ambulance bills for his cronies.

Dariye, who fled Nigeria after being impeached three years ago, faces corruption charges if he is tracked down. But Oyebanjo, who met Dariye when she was studying for a degree in Nigeria 17 years ago, insisted she had been groomed for her money laundering role over years of friendship.

She said he had lavished gifts on her, flattered her and made her feel welcome in his family home. "He had a driver, several cars and at least two houses. He also employed several servants so I thought he was very well-to-do. I had no reason to believe he was lying. I don't know what governors in Nigeria are, or are not, entitled to," she said.

Oyebanjo said she warned Dariye that the Cheltenham public school she had chosen for his children was expensive.

"He did not mind at all. He told me he would wire the money to my account because that way he could avoid a lot of bureaucracy and that he would refund me. Again, I thought nothing of it," she told the court.

But the judge said: "The jury were sure you knew the sums were the proceeds of criminal activity and that, knowing that, you provided Dariye with valuable assistance in hiding them.

"That money should have been used for the benefit of the people of Platau state and not for the private benefit of Dariye and his associates."

Oyebanjo, 41, who was born in Fife to Nigerian parents and now lives in Hertfordshire, committed the offences between 2000 and 2004.

Ibrahim Lamonde, a Nigerian police officer, told the court that Dariye had looted millions from the poverty-stricken province he was paid £20,000 a year to represent. He added: "We believe he had several bank officials on his payroll in this country."

http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=523152007
 
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