The State of Jersey, Nigeria and the United States of America have reached an agreement over the return over $308m in confiscated funds to Nigeria in a landmark agreement.
The money was laundered through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of the son of the former Head of State of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.
In 2014, a U.S. Federal Court in Washington D.C 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.
A joint statement by the countries reveals that the refund, "Is a result of extensive co-operation between the Jersey authorities, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, with crucial assistance from other governments around the world.
"At the time the case was filed as part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative in 2013, it was the largest U.S. kleptocracy forfeiture action ever commenced.
"In 2014, the Attorney-General of Jersey applied for and was granted a Property Restraint Order over the Jersey bank account balance of Doraville. This was challenged in the Royal Court of Jersey and Court of Appeal, and an application for permission to appeal to the Privy Council by Doraville was refused. France and the United Kingdom restrained additional funds at U.S. request.
"General Abacha and his associates stole and laundered many hundreds of millions of dollars of public money during his military regime, doing vast harm to the futures of his own people.
"The monies were laundered by his family, including his sons Ibrahim and Mohammed, and a number of close associates. The laundering operation extended to the United States and European jurisdictions such as the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg.
"In 2018, Governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, United States of America and the Bailiwick of Jersey commenced the negotiation of the procedures for the repatriation, transfer, disposition and management of the assets. The tripartite agreement signed this week represents a major watershed in international cooperation in asset recovery and repatriation, and will provide benefit to people throughout Nigeria.
"The projects on which the funds will be expended will be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and independently audited.
"The Federal Republic of Nigeria will establish a monitoring team to oversee the implementation of the projects and to report regularly on progress.
"The Nigerian Government in consultation with the other oarties, will also engage civil society organisations, who have expertise in substantial infrastructure projects, civil engineering, anti-corruption compliance, anti-human trafficking compliance, and procurement to provide additional monitoring and oversight."