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Bags of Money for Bribes Land Nigerian Politician in Jail

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Talk about nerve. As governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta state, James Ibori was so deep into bribery and corruption that he tried to bribe the head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption office with a bag full of money that was so big one person could not carry it alone.

The story came out in a London court this week. Nuhu Ribadu, former boss of Nigeria’s anti-corruption office testified that in 2007 Ibori was so desperate to see the investigation into his criminal activities dropped that he offered Ribadu cash to “stop the investigation.”

Ribadu played along, sending staff members to receive a bag of cash more than three feet wide. It contained more than $15 million. The money was turned over to Nigeria’s central bank and Ibori was arrested.

According to evidence in court more than half of the $1 billion Delta state received from the central government during Ibori’s time in office simply disappeared. This in a country with some of the poorest people in the world.

Ibori has been sent to jail in the U.K. for his part in a scam that plundered more than $250 million. In court, it was said he personally pocketed more than $75 million. But in passing the 13-year sentence for fraud and money-laundering Judge Anthony Pitts said that figure may prove to be “ludicrously low.” He estimated the real amount that Ibori personally stole from the Nigerian state may exceed $300 million.

Before he was brought down Ibori owned luxury homes -- including three multi-million dollar homes in London and a mansion in Johannesburg -- as well as a private jet, a fleet of luxury cars and he sent his children to the best schools in England.

It was a staggering rise for a man who once worked as $20,000-a-year cashier in a British hardware store.  His first criminal charge came while he worked at the store, he was convicted of stealing $450. His crimes gradually became more audacious until as governor in Nigeria he was immune from prosecution.

“His greed increased exponentially during his course of his governorship as did his arrogance,” the prosecutor told the London court.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio