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Saharareporters learnt that funds for the purchase of the $20 million Bombardier Challenger 604 jet were paid to the jet’s manufacturer through different shell companies around the globe. First, the sum of $4.7 million was transferred to Bombardier from a Mauritius-based Parabola International Corp through the solicitors’ firm of Arlington Sharmas in London. The money from Parabola originated from an account opened and maintained by James Ibori in Switzerland in the name of a company known as “Stanhope.” One Bhadresh Gohil, a partner at Arlington Sharmas solicitors of 6 Arlington Street, London SW1 was the central figure in the Bombardier Challenger jet transactions. Mr. Gohil incorporated Telaton Quays and was the authorized signatory in the deal to purchase the Challenger jet. Mr. Gohil, according to the documents available to Saharareporters, is known to have coordinated the purchase of the Challenger jet with Mr. Nogie Meggison, the director of Wings Aviation of Nigeria. Mr. Meggison, an air pilot, identified as a beneficial owner of Wings Aviation Limited, also provided $3 million through Mr. Gohil to Bombardier. In a due diligence letter to Bombadier Inc., Mr. Gohil described Mr. Meggision as a “well-known and respected” operator in the aviation industry. But investigators discovered that Wings Aviation is actually owned by Stanhope and Parabola through another unnamed parent company directly controlled by Mr. James Ibori.
In the case of Adebimpe Pogoson, the documents reveal that she transferred money out of Nigeria through banks in Asaba and Lagos. These monies were later transferred electronically into a UK sterling account held in the name of MER Engineering. Ex-Governor Ibori was a director of this company until he became the governor of Delta State. In 1999, Adebimpe Pogoson was the sole signatory to the account of MER Engineering in London. Funds were transferred electronically to Private Bank AG Geneva. The account in the bank is in the name of Stanhope Investments Ltd. Approximately £2 million was transferred from Nigeria into the account of MER Engineering during 2004/2005, and most transferred out of accounts controlled by James Ibori in Switzerland.
The initial deposit for the aircraft in the sum of $4,788,176.92 was paid from nominee accounts owned and controlled by Ibori. In June 2005, $4.7 million was received from Stanhope into the Kaingo account number 22065 (Parabola) held in Schroders, Zurich, and transferred to Arlington Sharmas Solicitors for onward transfer to Bombardier Inc. Investigators strongly suspect that the funds made available to Bombardier Incorporated represent the proceeds of criminal activity in Nigeria.
By letter dated 25 August 2005 to a company in Genera, Dzlurzynski & Associates SA, Mr Bharesh Gohil of Arlington Sharmas wrote that Stanhope Investments Ltd and Parabola International were the principal shareholders of Aviation Development Corporation (ADC) Plc, whose subsidiary is Wings Aviation. It was stated that total purchase price of the Challenger jet would be $20m and the aircraft would form part of the Charter company structure. In a letter from Mr Nogie Meggison on behalf of Wings Aviation Ltd dated 24 October 2005 to Parabola he refers to their investment into Telaton Quays and Clover International. Mr Nogie Meggison appears to confirm that Stanhope Investments limited has invested in Wings Aviation for the purposes of this particular investment. It is states that the source of Wings’ investment funds “have never been discussed with yourselves” and that Wings are not aware of any problems with the origin or source of these funds. There is therefore good reason to believe that Stanhope Investments, and therefore James Ibori, has provided the funds for purchase of the Challenger jet. Saharareporters learns that in his application for a bank account on behalf of Stanhope James Ibori states that he might invest £100m in the bank and stated that he was 30% owner of the largest private oil company in Nigeria, Oando.
On the strength of the evidence gathered to support money laundering charges against James Ibori in London the documents stated that prosecutors moved to take over a Challenger 300 aircraft or alternatively any monies proposed to be returned by Bombardier Inc in respect of the termination of the proposed purchase: All Accounts held by Stanhope Investments ltd. at PKB private Bank AG, Switzerland and all other assets held by or on behalf of Stanhope Investment Ltd;
Saharareporters also noticed that law enforcement agents in London requested that it is appropriate to treat the assets of Haleway Investments Limited, Stanhope Investment Limited and Telaton Quays Limited as the assets of James Ibori. Elaborating in evidence and exhibits attached to court documents that they have strong grounds to believe that each of the companies are investment vehicles for James Ibori using his assets, and controlled by him, and that it is therefore appropriate to pierce the corporate veil in respect of each. Stanhope Investment Limited’s account was opened in Switzerland by James Ibori and monies were transferred from that account for the purchase of the challenger jet.
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James Ibori ( law enforcement agents in London requested that it is appropriate to treat the assets of Haleway Investments Limited, Stanhope Investment Limited and Telaton Quays Limited as the assets of James Ibori. Elaborating in evidence and exhibits attached to court documents that they have strong grounds to believe that each of the companies are investment vehicles for James Ibori using his assets, and controlled by him, and that it is therefore appropriate to pierce the corporate veil in respect of each. )
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