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Jersey Repatriation Agreement with Nigeria

4 February 2020

Jersey repatriation agreement with Nigeria


“As a leading international finance centre with an effective and robust regulatory regime, Jersey has a responsibility to firmly address any instances of alleged money laundering and corruption. Our commitment to seeing these funds repatriated has led to a positive outcome for the people of Nigeria, has established lasting partnerships and given us a pioneering role in asset-recovery that is based on the principles of national interest, trust and mutual respect.”

 Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations

Jersey, Nigeria and the United States of America are to return over US$300 million in forfeited funds back to the people of Nigeria in a landmark agreement.

On Monday of this week (3 February 2020) the governments of Jersey and the United States of America (USA), and the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereafter Nigeria) entered into an Asset Recovery Agreement to return more than US$300 million of confiscated assets to Nigeria.

This is the result of extensive co-operation between Jersey, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the US Department of Justice and FBI, and Nigeria. Assistance was also received from other governments around the world.

Picture: Mark Temple QC, The Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey

"The Agreement establishes a framework based on fruitful co-operation, trust and respect so that the forfeited funds can be repatriated to benefit the people of Nigeria, from whom they had been taken."

Mark Temple QC, The Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey

The funds were first laundered in the USA and then held in Jersey bank accounts in the name of a British Virgin Islands company called Doraville Properties Corporation, and in the name of the son of the former Head of State of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha. In 2014 a US Federal Court in Washington DC forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998 when General Abacha was Head of State.

General Abacha, his family and his close associates stole and laundered many hundreds of millions of dollars of public money, doing immense harm to the future of the Nigerian people. The laundering operation was world-wide and extended to the USA and European jurisdictions such as; the UK Germany, France, Lichtenstein Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

The funds in Jersey were forfeited in a 2014 judgement entered by the US District Court for the District of Columbia, which became final in 2018. In 2019 The Royal Court of Jersey registered and enforced the judgement.

“This is a very significant achievement, and, once again, demonstrates Jersey’s commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”

 Mark Temple QC, The Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey

In 2018 Nigeria, the USA and Jersey began the negotiation of the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets. The tripartite agreement signed this week (03/02/2020) symbolises a major turning point in the international cooperation of asset recovery and repatriation, and will provide benefit to the people of Nigeria.

The projects on which the funds will be spent will improve and build infrastructure, and will be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, and independently audited. Nigeria will also establish a Monitoring Team to oversee the projects and to provide regular reports on the progress made.

Picture: Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice

Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Nigeria who signed on behalf of the Nigerian government noted:

“...Nigeria has committed that the assets will support and assist in expediting the construction of three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria. These projects are being executed under the supervision of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority as a Public Private Partnership that will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains from the East to the West and to the Northern part of Nigeria...millions of the country’s population set to benefit from the road infrastructures. “

The Nigerian government, in consultation with the other Parties, will also engage Civil Society Organisations, who have expertise in large infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-human trafficking compliance, anti-corruption compliance, and procurement to provide additional oversight and monitoring.

Mark Temple QC, The Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey, who signed the Agreement on behalf of the Island commented:

“This Agreement represents the culmination of two decades of intensive work by Law Officers in Jersey, the United States and Nigeria. The return of the assets to Nigeria had been delayed by a number of hard-fought challenges by third parties which were defeated in the Courts in Jersey and the United States. "

Picture: Senator Ian Gorst, Minister for External Relations (Jersey)

Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations said:

“Since becoming aware that the alleged proceeds of Abacha corruption and money laundering had passed through Jersey financial institutions, the Jersey authorities have done everything within their power to investigate what happened and to return the money to its rightful owners, the people of Nigeria. I would like to offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to the dedicated team within the Law Officers’ Department, and their colleagues in United States and Nigeria. Their excellent level of cooperation in the fight against corruption, at domestic and international levels, should be an example for other jurisdictions to follow."

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