NIGERIA is expecting the authorities in the UK and US to release the $211m seized from a bank account owned by former military dictator General Sani Abacha in the Channel Island of Jersey yesterday to the federal government.
Yesterday, a British high court in Jersey confiscated the cash which was lodged into accounts by Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Island company. It will be held by the British government until authorities in Jersey, the US and Nigeria agree on how it should be distributed.
Late General Abacha, who was head of state between 1993 until his death on June 8, 1998, laundered money through the US to the Channels Island. Any money that Jersey does keep will be put into the Criminal Confiscation Fund, which is used to pay for a variety of projects.
In the past, the fund has been used for the new police station and developments at La Moye Prison. It is expected that even more money held by Doraville is likely to be seized and paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund in the future.
Jersey’s 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 and in achieving the payment of the bulk of the funds into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”
In 2014, at the request of the US authorities, Jersey applied for and the Royal Court granted, a restraining order over the bank account balance of Doraville. The purpose of the restraining order was to preserve the money until a final civil asset recovery order could be registered in court.
Doraville applied to the Royal Court for the restraint order to be discharged, but the Royal Court dismissed the application in 2016. Then in 2017, Doraville challenged the Royal Court’s decision, taking the case to Jersey’s Court of Appeal but this appeal was again rejected.
Following the decision of Jersey’s Court of Appeal, Doraville made an application to appeal against the restraint order before the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court. In February last year, the Privy Council announced its rejection of this final legal challenge.
Last week, at a United Nations convention on corruption, Jersey’s solicitor-general Mark Temple, said: “The conference of the states parties to the United Nations convention against corruption is an important international forum concerned with anti-corruption measures and asset returns. This conference is a good opportunity to demonstrate progress with the Doraville case, as well as Jersey’s determination to deal with international financial crime more generally.”