The former right-hand-man of a corrupt Nigerian dictator has failed in his bid to recoup nearly £2m of dirty money seized by Jersey’s Royal Court.
Jeremiah Timbut Useni has been a significant public figure in Nigerian politics for a quarter of a century, and was the second most senior officer under the rule of General Sani Abacha between 1993 and 1998.
In 1986, Lieutenant General Useni opened an account in Jersey under the false name of 'Mr Tim Shani', going on to gradually transfer £1.9m into four accounts held by 'Mr Shani' with Standard Chartered Bank over the following 15 years.
While he claimed that the accounts used a false name for "security" reasons, Jersey's Attorney General successfully argued before the Royal Court in Maythat they were, in fact, the proceeds of concealed bribes and corruption that he had received during his time in office.
Appearing for Lt Gen Useni, Advocate Hiren Mistry argued against the resulting forfeiture in Jersey's Court of Appeal last week. He also challenged the island's Royal Court's decision not to grant Lt Gen Useni access to the funds for the purpose of defending in legal proceedings.
Pictured: More than $267 million, linked to a corrupt former Nigerian President Sani Abacha was recovered by Jersey in 2019.
Handing down its judgment yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld the findings of Jersey's Attorney General relating to the 'tainted' nature of the funds, and dismissed the additional bid to gain access to them to pay for Lt Gen Useni's court cases.
The judgment is a significant one for the island's justice system, clearly setting out the legal principles and caselaw underpinning the powers of its own Royal Court when dealing with requests to use alleged tainted property.
The seizures were made possible as a result of the Forgeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018.
Pictured: Attorney General Mark Temple KC.
His Majesty's Attorney General, Mark Temple KC, described the law as "an important additional weapon against financial crime in appropriate cases."
He added: "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."
Pictured top: General Useni defended the five-year reign of Sani Abacha when he appeared on Nigeria's Arise News programme last year. (YouTube/Arise News)
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