More than US$267 million, linked to a corrupt former Nigerian President, have been recovered by Jersey following years of court battles.
The money - which totals US$267,751,992.02 - was paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund, a Fund managed by the Minister for Treasury and Resources, from assets that were previously held by Doraville Properties Corporation.
A US Federal Court in Washington DC had found that the money - believed to be in excess of US$300 million - was derived from corruption in Nigeria during the military regime of General Sani Abacha, and had been laundered through the US banking system by people including President Abacha's son Mohammed, before being transferred to Jersey.
It is estimated that General Sani Abacha, who led a military regime that ruled the country from 1993 to 1998, stole £2.2 billion from the country during his reign through theft and inflated invoices. In 2010, Raj Bhojwani was jailed for six years by the Royal Court for three counts of money laundering on Abacha’s behalf – the Court had heard that he was involved in a deal to sell trucks to the Nigerian Army at five-times their real value, generating huge profits.
Pictured: The then-Attorney General, Tim Le Cocq - now the Deputy Bailiff - applied for a restraining order on the money in 2014.
In 2014, at the request of the US Authorities, the Attorney General applied for a restraining order - which the Royal Court granted - over the Jersey bank account balance of Doraville, a BVI company. The purpose of the restraining order was to preserve the money until a final civil asset recovery order could be registered in the Royal Court.
Doraville applied to the Royal Court for the restraint order to be discharged but the application was dismissed in July 2016, when the Royal Court ruled the restraint order was lawful.
Not satisfied with the outcome, the company then challenged the Royal Court’s decision by taking the case to Jersey’s Court of Appeal but was once again unsuccessfulI.
Pictured: Doraville challenged the decision all the way to the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court.
Following the decision of Jersey’s Court of Appeal, Doraville made an application to appeal the restraining order to the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court. But the Privy Council backed Jersey's decision and rejected this final legal challenge.
Further monies held by Doraville are likely to be recovered and paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund in the future.
They will be returned to the Federal Republic of Nigeria through an asset sharing agreement which is due to be negotiated between the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United States of America and the Government of Jersey.
Pictured: The Attorney General Robert MacRae QC says that in achieving the payment Jersey had demonstrated "its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”
Attorney General Robert MacRae QC commented: “In restraining the funds at the request of the United States of America, through whose banking system the funds were laundered prior to arriving here, and in achieving the payment of the bulk of the funds into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”
The Doraville case was the subject of a presentation at the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Vienna last week. Jersey’s Solicitor General Mark Temple QC spoke in front of participants from over 100 countries - including the US, Nigeria, Russia, China and the European Union, as well as organisations such as the World Bank.
Pictured: The Solicitor General Mark Temple made a presentation on the case at the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention.
He commented: : “The Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption is an important international forum concerned with anti-corruption measures and asset returns. The Conference was a good opportunity to demonstrate progress with the Doraville case, as well as Jersey’s determination to deal with international financial crime more generally.”
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