15 January 2024
On 29 November 2023, His Majesty's Attorney General served a forfeiture notice under Article 10 (1) of the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018 seeking the forfeiture of approximately US$8.9 million of tainted property deposited into a Jersey bank account by Nigerian companies in 2014. On 12 January 2024 the Royal Court granted the Attorney General's application to forfeit that property.
The Attorney General successfully demonstrated that the tainted property belonged to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was more likely than not stolen from the people of Nigeria by high-ranking officials within certain departments of the Nigerian Government in 2014. The tainted property was transferred to Jersey as part of a corrupt scheme in operation at the time, which used third party contractors to siphon off government funds for the personal benefit of Nigerian officials and their associates.
Illicit payments were disguised as transactions relating to government sanctioned contracts for the purchase of arms and aviation equipment during incursions by Boko Haram in Nigeria between 2009 and 2015. It is probable that most of the funds meant for legitimate arms procurement were diverted through foreign bank accounts to and from shell companies to family members of the former ruling party and shared amongst its members during the 2015 general elections in Nigeria and that the tainted property in this case was to be used for the purposes of such an illicit transaction.
His Majesty's Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, said: “The Economic Crime and Confiscation Unit of the Law Officers' Department (ECCU), with support from the Financial Intelligence Unit – Jersey, has worked in close partnership with the Federal Republic of Nigeria to recover the tainted property on behalf of the people of Nigeria. I am also grateful to the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa for its assistance to ECCU's investigation. The Royal Court's order concludes a complex and long-running asset forfeiture investigation by ECCU. This case again demonstrates the effectiveness of the 2018 Forfeiture Law in recovering the proceeds of corruption and restoring that money to victims of crime. I now intend to negotiate an asset return agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria."