Africa

Jersey bank’s £230m seizure set to be returned to Nigeria

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More than $300m (£230m) seized from Nigeria’s former dictator is set to be returned to the country from Jersey.

The money was laundered through the US under the presidency of Sani Abacha in the 1990s, before being transferred to the Channel Island, according to Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund.

The sum was recovered from a Jersey bank account belonging to shell company Doraville in June 2019.

The governments of Nigeria, the US and Jersey signed the agreement this week.

As part of the repatriation Jersey will retain $5m (£3.8m) and the US is eligible for the same, the States said.

Legal battle

Jersey will pay the US government on or before 6 March, and the US will then have 45 days to return it to Nigeria.

US courts ruled in 2014 Mr Abacha had stolen the money from Nigeria while he was in power from 1993 until his death in 1998.

The Doraville bank account was subsequently frozen by Jersey’s Royal Court in 2014, prompting a five-year legal battle.

The returned money will be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and will be independently audited, according to a joint statement from all three governments.

Mark Temple QC, Solicitor General and Attorney General designate of Jersey, said: “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.”

Abubakar Malami, signing on behalf of Nigeria, described it as a “major victory” for the country.

Sani Abacha meets with former Pope John Paul II

Swiss authorities have already returned $300m (£230m) to Nigeria as part of the seizures.

A further $30m (£23m) in Britain and $144m (£111m) in France is expected to be recovered, according to the US Department of Justice.

Brian Benczkowski, assistant Attorney General to the department, said the “landmark” agreement ensured “transparency and accountability.”

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