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"Tainted" £2m from Jersey accounts returned to Nigeria for infrastructure works

Tuesday 20 February 2024

"Tainted" £2m from Jersey accounts returned to Nigeria for infrastructure works

Tuesday 20 February 2024


“Tainted” money totaling more than £2million has been returned from Jersey to Nigeria as part of an international anti-corruption agreement, and will be put towards infrastructure projects in the African nation.

Funds held in four Jersey-based accounts were ruled by the Royal Court in May 2022 to have been the proceeds of concealed bribes or corruption involving the former right-hand-man of a corrupt dictator in the African country. The decision was later upheld on appeal.

Having successfully argued in court that funds of £1.9million be forfeited, the Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, signed an agreement that £2.05m – which includes interest – be returned to Nigeria.

The court heard that the accounts had been created to hold money received by Lieutenant General Jeremiah Useni, described by Mr Temple as the second most senior Army officer under General Sani Abacha, who ruled the country for five years in the 1990s.

Returning the money was arranged subject to the framework established by the 2020 Tripartite Agreement between Jersey, Nigeria and the USA. This enabled over $300 million, found to be the proceeds of corruption arising when General Abacha was head of state, to be repatriated for use on three critical infrastructure projects.

Two of the projects, a bridge over the River Niger and an expressway between Lagos – Nigeria's largest city – and Ibadan, have been completed, while the final project, a 375km highway linking the Nigerian capital Abuja and the country's second-largest city, Kano, is nearing completion.

Attorney_General_Mark_Temple_KC_signing_asset_return_agreement_19_Feb_2024.jpg

Pictured: Attorney General Mark Temple.

Mr Temple said: "The repatriation of more than £2 million serves to reinforce the commitment of Jersey in both the recovery of tainted property and the repatriation of such property for the benefit of the victims of corruption – in this case, the people of Nigeria.

"It also serves as a further illustration of the importance of civil forfeiture as a weapon in the ongoing fight against corruption, demonstrating that even in cases where a criminal prosecution is not possible, there is still a means to obtain justice.”

A further $8.9 million is set to be returned to Nigeria at a future date under the same framework  following a forfeiture order made by the Royal Court last month.

This order was made on the basis of that the tainted property was more likely that not to have resulted from a corrupt scheme in 2014, in which third party contractors siphoned off government funds for the benefit of high-ranking Nigerian officials and their associates.

During the 2022 court proceedings, it was stated that Mr Useni had been a significant public figure in Nigerian politics for a quarter of a century, and was the second most senior officer under the rule of General Abacha between 1993 and 1998.

In 1986, Mr Useni opened an account in Jersey under the false name of Tim Shani, going on to gradually transfer £1.9m into four accounts with Standard Chartered Bank over the following 15 years.

While he claimed that the accounts used a false name for "security" reasons, Jersey's Attorney General successfully argued before the Royal Court in May that they were, in fact, the proceeds of concealed bribes and corruption.

READ MORE...

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Pictured - top: A bridge over the River Niger was one of three projects part-funded by money repatriated to Nigeria from Jersey.

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