A total of US$267,751,992.02 (N96.4 billion at N360 exchange rate) has been seized by the government of Jersey after a United States Federal Court identified it as money derived from corruption in Nigeria during the military regime of General Sani Abacha.
The court found that the money had been laundered through the U.S. banking system by people including Abacha’s son Mohammed, before being transferred to Jersey where it was held by Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company.
The U.S. had made a request in 2014 for the Island’s Attorney General to apply for a restraining order over the Jersey bank account.
The Royal Court granted the restraining order to preserve the money until a final civil asset recovery order could be registered.
However, Doraville applied to the Royal Court for the restraining order to be discharged. The Royal Court dismissed the application in 2016, leading Doraville to challenge the decision in 2017 at Jersey’s Court of Appeal which also ruled in favour of the restraining order.
Doraville further made an application to appeal against the restraining order before the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court, but the council rejected its application in a final ruling.
The seized fund was finally paid into Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund on Friday, May 31, 2019 and managed by the Minister for Treasury and Resources. The fund will be held pending an asset sharing agreement between Nigeria, Jersey and the U.S.
In June 2018, the Nigerian government met with government officials of the United Kingdom, U.S. and Jersey and agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the repatriation of $500 million looted from the Nigerian treasury by Abacha.
Abacha was Nigeria’s military ruler from 1993 until he died mysteriously in 1998, and is notorious for having overseen the massive looting of the nation’s resources.
In 2017, the Nigerian government received the sum of $322.5 million from Switzerland as part of funds stolen during the former dictator’s regime.