More than $267 million belonging to the former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha was seized from a bank account in Jersey. According to the Jersey Civil Asset Recovery Fund, the money found in this bank account is the result of organized corruption in the country under the presidency of Sani Abacha in the 1990s.
A front company called Doraville held the funds, which were frozen in 2014. After a five-year legal battle, the money has now been recovered and will be shared between Jersey, the United States, and Nigeria.
Jersey Attorney General Robert McRae QC said the seizure “demonstrated Jersey’s commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering”. We do not yet know how the $267 million will be distributed, nor how much is left to each government.
The Jersey Legal Service declined to comment on the decision to divide these funds between the three countries on the grounds that it could “hinder ongoing discussions”. The Jersey government said it had contacted the United States in 2007 to demand the opening of legal proceedings in US courts over laundered funds.
The US Department of Justice itself confiscated millions of dollars of money in Nigeria, condemning Sani Abacha and his associates for money laundering operations through the US banking sector. After “extensive” gathering of evidence in various international jurisdictions, the funds were frozen by the Royal Court in 2014 and finally paid to the Civil Asset Recovery Fund on May 31.
The said cash is only a fraction of the billions of dollars that would have been stolen and laundered under Mr. Abacha’s presidency. Last year, the Swiss authorities returned US $300 million to the Nigerian government after it was discovered that they had been stolen from public funds.
This money will be donated to 300,000 Nigerian households over the next six years.
A spokesman for the Jersey Department of Legal Affairs said he had to face “challenges and appeals” to Jersey’s highest court, as well as “separate proceedings” by a third party in US court.