Ex-general fails in bid to recover £2m

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A RETIRED Nigerian army general who transferred nearly £2 million of ‘tainted’ money into his Jersey bank accounts has lost his appeal against its seizure.

Attorney General Mark Temple applied to have Lieutenant-General Jeremiah Timbut Useni’s £1.9 million – deposited between 1989 and the late 1990s – seized on corruption grounds and because his Island accounts were opened under the false name of Tim Shani.

The money was seized by the Royal Court in May this year after the general failed to satisfy the court that, on the balance of probabilities, the funds in his accounts were not ‘tainted’.

Lieutenant-General Useni held high political office during the Abacha regime, when the money was transferred to his Jersey accounts.

The soldier turned politician was a senator for the Plateau South area of Nigeria in 2015 with the People’s Democratic Party, but failed in a 2018 bid to become governor.

The 79-year-old, also known as Jerry Boy, had previously disclosed significant assets, but claimed earlier this year that he could not afford to pay his legal representatives in Jersey unless he was allowed to access his accounts here.

He said the money had been transferred to his Jersey bank accounts for reasons of security.

Lieutenant-General Useni appealed against the Attorney General’s successful demonstration to the Royal Court that the accounts were created ‘to hold and conceal bribes and other proceeds of corruption’, but his appeal was dismissed in a written judgment by the Court of Appeal handed down this week.

Mr Temple said the ‘tainted money’ could be seized under Jersey’s Forfeiture of Assets Law 2018 without the need for a conviction.

He said: ‘The decision of the Jersey Court of Appeal in this case reconfirms that the forfeiture law is an effective means of depriving persons of property that is reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained.’

The money will now be paid into the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund and then returned to the people of Nigeria.

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