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Court orders forfeiture of corrupt funds

07 March 2023

On Friday 3 March 2023 Jersey’s Royal Court ordered the forfeiture of £777,581 from a Jersey Trust which had been placed there by a Mozambican national who received corrupt payments in the course of his employment. 

Carlos Fragoso, a retired civil servant formerly in charge of the maintenance of roads and bridges in Mozambique, settled funds into the Tolvex Trust in Jersey in 1996, and the money was placed into a Jersey bank account. He falsely stated to the trust company and to the bank that he was a civil engineer seeking to benefit his family with savings from his former earnings. 

In 2013, the Royal Court found that Mr Fragoso had settled another Jersey trust, using the same deception as to his employment, and that the contents of this trust were the proceeds of bribes paid to him by firms wanting to secure construction contracts in Mozambique. Mr Fragoso had been unable to explain the funds, which vastly exceeded his legitimate income, and they were returned to the government of Mozambique.

Following the Court’s decision, suspicion arose that the Tolvex Trust might also contain tainted funds which were the result of bribery and corruption. Using the provisions of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Procedure) (Jersey) Law 2018, His Majesty’s Attorney General initiated an investigation into the matter, followed by a successful application to the Royal Court for the forfeiture of the money which concluded last week. Mr Fragoso did not attend and was not represented. 

The enactment in 2018 of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Procedure) (Jersey) Law has provided a new and helpful mechanism to secure the forfeiture of tainted funds. This case is the latest in a series dealing with the proceeds of historic foreign corruption hidden in Jersey bank accounts, where the proceeds of this highly damaging practice can be returned to the relevant country to benefit its people.

Attorney General Mark Temple KC said: “This is a good example of the use of the summary procedure to forfeit tainted assets under the Forfeiture Law 2018 and also of the benefit Jersey’s “no consent” regime (which differs from that of the UK) where there is a suspicion that the assets are the proceeds of crime. I intend to start negotiations with the relevant Mozambique authorities so that the funds can be returned to the people of Mozambique.”

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