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Corruption funds to stay frozen until their recovery by Nigeria

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HUNDREDS of millions of dollars embezzled by a Nigerian dictator and hidden in Jersey bank accounts is to remain frozen until it is recovered by the African nation, following a ruling by the Privy Council.

General Sani Abacha

An estimated $300 million was funnelled to Jersey from Nigeria after being laundered through the USA. The money – made through corruption during the military regime of General Sani Abacha – was placed in accounts held locally by a British Virgin Islands company, Doraville Properties Corporation.

In 2014 the assets were frozen by the Royal Court following an application by the US authorities. Since then, Doraville has lodged several legal challenges to lift the property restraining order.

Both the Royal Court and later Jersey’s Court of Appeal dismissed the company’s applications. And Doraville recently failed in its last available legal challenge, after the Privy Council rejected the company’s latest application.

The funds will now remain frozen in Jersey pending the registration of a civil asset recovery order in the Royal Court. It is understood that once the funds are freed, they will be returned to Nigeria and Jersey is unlikely to receive a share.

In a statement, Attorney General Robert MacRae said: ‘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, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.’

In earlier court cases, it was revealed that General Abacha, who was president of Nigeria from 1993 until his death five years later, and his associates, stole millions of dollars from public reserves.

The funds were later laundered through the US by several people, including General Abacha’s son, Mohammed. One of his associates was arrested in the USA in 2003 on warrants issued in Jersey.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
author

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