‘Tainted’ £2m returned from Jersey to Nigeria

The bridge over the River Niger which was partly funded by money returned from Jersey accounts (37538612)

MORE than £2 million worth of “tainted” money has been returned from Jersey to Nigeria and put towards the building of two roads and a bridge.

The money, held in four Jersey-based accounts, was ruled by the Royal Court to have been the proceeds of concealed bribes or corruption involving the former right-hand man of a corrupt dictator in the African country.

Having successfully argued in court in 2022 that the funds totalling £1.9million be forfeited, Attorney General Mark Temple signed an agreement that £2.05m – including 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 $300m, 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 Nigerian capital Abuja and the country’s second-largest city, Kano, is nearing completion.

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 $8.9m 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 that the tainted property was more likely than 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.

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