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Privy Council refuses appeal in Nigerian money laundering case

15 February 2018

Doraville Properties Corporation has failed in its last available legal challenge to the restraint of hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the Nigerian public purse. The Privy Council’s decision marks a further step towards the recovery by the Jersey authorities of these stolen assets.

A US Federal Court in Washington DC had previously found that the money - believed to be in excess of US$300 million - was derived from corruption in Nigeria during the military regime of General Sani Abacha, and ‎had been laundered through the US banking system by people including President Abacha's son Mohammed before being transferred to Jersey. 

In 2014, at the request of the US Authorities, the Attorney General applied for, and the Royal Court granted, a restraining order over the Jersey bank account balance of Doraville, which is a BVI company. The purpose of the restraining order is to preserve the money until a final civil asset recovery order can be registered in the Royal Court.

Doraville applied to the Royal Court for the restraint order to be discharged. The Royal Court dismissed this application in its judgement of 22 July 2016, ruling that the restraint order was lawful.

Doraville challenged the Royal Court’s decision, taking the case to Jersey’s Court of Appeal. In its judgement of 22 February 2017 the Court of Appeal rejected the bid to overturn the Royal Court’s 2016 ruling.

Following the decision of Jersey’s Court of Appeal, Doraville made an application to appeal the restraint order to the Privy Council, Jersey’s ultimate appellate court. In February 2018 the Privy Council announced its rejection of this final legal challenge and awarded costs to the Attorney General. The funds will now remain frozen in Jersey pending the registration of a civil asset recovery order in the Royal Court.

Attorney General Robert MacRae QC 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, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”

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