Almost £780,000 of 'bribe money' placed in Jersey trust to be returned to Mozambique

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A SUM of almost £780,000 placed in a Jersey trust is due to be forfeited after the Royal Court found that the money had been obtained through deception and bribery in an African state.

At the conclusion of a recent hearing, the court ordered the forfeiture of £777,581 from the Tolvex Trust, after it was found that the funds had been placed there by a former civil servant from Mozambique who had received corrupt payments.

A statement from the Law Officers’ Department said Carlos Fragoso, formerly in charge of road and bridge maintenance in Mozambique, had set up the trust in 1996 and deposited the money into a Jersey bank account.

The statement said Fragoso had falsely stated that he was a civil engineer seeking to benefit his family with savings from former earnings.

The statement continued: ‘In 2013, the Royal Court found that Fragoso had settled another Jersey trust, using the same deception, and that the contents of this trust were the proceeds of bribes paid to him by firms wanting to secure construction contracts.

‘Fragoso had been unable to explain the funds, which vastly exceeded his legitimate income, and they were returned to the Government of Mozambique.’

Suspicions arose that the Tolvex Trust might also contain tainted funds resulting from bribery and corruption, leading to an investigation under the Forfeiture of Assets Law passed in 2018 and culminating in last week’s case.

Attorney General Mark Temple KC said: ‘This is a good example of the use of the summary procedure to forfeit tainted assets and also of the benefit that Jersey’s “no consent” regime (which differs from that of the UK) where there is a suspicion that the assets are the proceeds of crime.’

Mr Temple said he intended to start negotiations with the Mozambique authorities so that the funds could be returned to the people of Mozambique.

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