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Nige­ria, Jer­sey, US To Share $268m Abacha Loot

Nige­ria, the Unit­ed States and the Island of Jer­sey are to share about $268 mil­lion, which was plun­dered from the trea­sury by for­mer mil­i­tary Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

Reports yes­ter­day by the BBC and JERSEY EVENING POST said the cash was seized from a Jer­sey bank account.

It is, how­ev­er, dif­fer­ent from pre­vi­ous seizures from the late head of state.

Accord­ing to reports, about $268 mil­lion was paid into the Island’s Civ­il Asset Recov­ery Fund from assets chan­neled to Jer­sey from Nige­ria after being laun­dered through the USA.

The mon­ey was laun­dered from the Unit­ed States and paid into Jer­sey accounts by a British Vir­gin Islands shell com­pa­ny, Dorav­ille Prop­er­ties Cor­po­ra­tion.

After a five-year legal wran­gle, the mon­ey, which was frozen in 2014, but has now been recov­ered, will be split between Jer­sey, the Unit­ed States and Nige­ria.

The huge sum will be held in Jer­sey while an asset-shar­ing agree­ment is struck between the USA, Nige­ria and the Island.

It was how­ev­er, unclear how much each of the three nations will get as no shar­ing for­mu­la has been agreed upon.

It was learnt that more mon­ey held by the shell com­pa­ny might be seized and paid into the Civ­il Asset Recov­ery Fund in the future.More than $450 mil­lion was frozen in 2014 by the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice, in what it described as the biggest klep­to­crat­ic for­fei­ture in its his­to­ry. Abacha, who died in 1998, is believed to have embez­zled and stolen bil­lions dur­ing his five years dic­ta­tor­ship and stashed most of it in accounts through­out Europe.

In 2016 Switzer­land nego­ti­at­ed with Nige­ria to return more than $300 mil­lion. The Swiss pre­vi­ous­ly had returned about $700 mil­lion, the first time frozen assets in Europe had ever been returned to an African nation.

The Buhari admin­is­tra­tion has used the mon­ey to fund its Social Invest­ment Pro­gramme, a scheme under which small time traders are giv­en N10,000 each to grow their busi­ness­es.

Nige­ria made a deal with the Abacha fam­i­ly: drop­ping the charges against the for­mer Head of State’s son, who was believed to have assist­ed in embez­zling the mon­ey, in exchange for all of his father’s for­eign funds.
Jersey’s Law Offi­cers Depart­ment declined to com­ment on the final dis­tri­b­u­tion of the funds because it could “prej­u­dice ongo­ing dis­cus­sions”.

Jersey’s gov­ern­ment said it had approached the US in 2007 to request legal pro­ceed­ings begin in US courts over the laun­dered funds.
The US Depart­ment of Jus­tice itself has refund­ed mil­lions of dol­lars of mon­ey back to Nige­ria, rul­ing that Abacha and asso­ciates laun­dered funds through the US bank­ing indus­try.

Fol­low­ing an “exten­sive” col­lec­tion of evi­dence in a vari­ety of inter­na­tion­al juris­dic­tions, the funds were frozen by the Roy­al Court in 2014 and final­ly paid into the Civ­il Asset Recov­ery Fund on May 31, 2019.

The mon­ey is just a frac­tion of the bil­lions of dol­lars that were alleged­ly stolen and laun­dered dur­ing the mil­i­tary regime of Abacha.

A spokesman for Jersey’s Law Offi­cers Depart­ment said it had faced “chal­lenges and appeals” all the way to Jersey’s high­est court, as well as “sep­a­rate pro­ceed­ings” by a third par­ty in US court.

Jersey’s attor­ney gen­er­al, Robert McRae QC, said the seizure “demon­strat­ed his country’s com­mit­ment to tack­ling inter­na­tion­al finan­cial crime and mon­ey laun­der­ing”.

He 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, the Island’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al applied for, and the Roy­al Court grant­ed, a restrain­ing order over the Jer­sey bank account bal­ance of Dorav­ille.

The restrain­ing order was to pre­serve the mon­ey until a final civ­il asset recov­ery order could be reg­is­tered in the Roy­al 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. That chal­lenge was again reject­ed.

How­ev­er, 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 2018 the Privy Coun­cil announced its rejec­tion of this final legal chal­lenge.

Source: Thisdaylive.com

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