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Jersey authorties seize $9 Million embezzled by Nigerian officials, to be Returned to Nigeria

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The Royal Court in Jersey has seized nearly $9 million embezzled by Nigerian government officials. The funds, hidden in a Jersey bank account, were part of a broader corrupt scheme involving the misappropriation of government funds intended for arms and aviation equipment purchases to combat the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

The funds were transferred to Jersey in 2014, with authorities stating that it was likely that most of the funds allocated for arms deals between 2009 and 2015 were diverted through foreign bank accounts and shell companies to benefit family members of the former ruling party in Nigeria.

Jersey’s Law Officers Department (LOD) deemed the property tainted, meant for an illicit transaction. In November of the previous year, Attorney General Mark Temple initiated a forfeiture notice under the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018 to seize the funds.

The Royal Court granted the application on Friday, paving the way for the restitution of the funds to Nigeria. The LOD stated, “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.”

Temple emphasized the effectiveness of the asset forfeiture investigation, acknowledging the collaboration between the Economic Crime and Confiscation Unit of the Law Officers’ Department, the Financial Intelligence Unit Jersey, and the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa.

This is not the first instance of Jersey authorities recovering embezzled funds from Nigeria. In 2020, over $300 million, stolen by Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha and hidden in Jersey bank accounts, was repatriated to Nigeria following a landmark agreement. The funds had been moved through the United States’ banking system before being held in Jersey accounts in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company.

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