Jersey to return £1.9 million of tainted funds to Nigeria
In a significant judgment handed down on 29 September, the Jersey Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against the Attorney General’s application seeking the forfeiture of approximately £1.9 million deposited into Jersey numbered bank accounts in a false identity between 1989 and the late 1990s.
- The assets were forfeited as tainted property under the summary procedure in the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018 and
- Concerned monies paid to Lieutenant General Jeremiah Timbut Useni (Retired) during the period he held high political and military office in the Abacha regime.
The Attorney General successfully demonstrated before the Royal Court that the accounts were created to hold and conceal bribes, or other proceeds of corruption. The Court of Appeal upheld these findings.
The Court of Appeal also dismissed an appeal and refused leave to appeal arising from rulings made by the Royal Court refusing to grant Lieutenant General Useni access to the funds sought to be forfeited for the purposes of defending proceedings under the summary procedure of the 2018 Law.
The judgment of the Court of Appeal sets out an important analysis of the legal principles and case law with respect to:-
- The powers of the Royal Court dealing with requests to use alleged tainted property in cases involving the withholding of consent by the police under the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999
- As well as the applicable Strasbourg jurisprudence relevant to the exercise of European Convention rights in such cases.
His Majesty’s Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, said:
- ” The Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018 provides for non-conviction-based forfeiture of tainted property.
- It is an important additional weapon against financial crime in appropriate cases.
- The decision of the Jersey Court of Appeal in this case re-confirms that the Forfeiture Law is an effective means of depriving persons of property that is reasonably suspected to have been unlawfully obtained.
- The monies will be paid into the Criminal Offences Confiscations Fund and returned to the people of Nigeria.”
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