03 June 2019
On Friday 31 May 2019 US$267,751,992.02 was paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund. This fund is managed by the Minister for Treasury and Resources in accordance with the Civil Asset Recovery (International Co-operation) (Jersey) Law 2007, from assets that were previously held by Doraville Properties Corporation.
A US Federal Court in Washington DC had previously found that the money – more than US$300 million - was derived from corruption in Nigeria during the military regime of General Sani Abacha. The court found that the money 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 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. The Royal Court dismissed this application on 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. Further monies held by Doraville are likely to be realised and paid into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund in the future.
The return of the money in the Civil Asset Recovery Fund to the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be the subject of an asset sharing agreement, to be negotiated between the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United States of America and the Government of Jersey.
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 before 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.”
Presentation at United Nations anti-corruption conference
On Thursday 30 May Jersey’s Solicitor General, Mark Temple QC, gave a presentation in Vienna, on the Doraville case, to the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The Conference was attended by participants from more than 100 countries (including the United States, Nigeria, Russia, China and the European Union) and organisations such as the World Bank.
Mark Temple said: “The Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption is an important international forum concerned with anti-corruption measures and asset returns. The Conference was a good opportunity to demonstrate progress with the Doraville case, as well as Jersey’s determination to deal with international financial crime more generally.”