Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-166
Sani Abacha / Raj Arjandas Bhojwani Case
Nigeria
President (Abacha,1993-1998) / Businessman and contractor for Nigerian government (Bhojwani)
Jersey
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
2002
2013
Art.16, Art.17, Art.19, Art.20, Art.23
Yes
Criminal Prosecution and Forfeiture
Letter of Request
Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Jersey Law 2001 [Letter of Request sent by Nigeria's civil attorney, Mr. Monfrini to Nigeria to seek evidence]
Ongoing cooperation and existing sharing agreement (Source: Federal Ministry of Justice, "FG assures speedy prosecution of criminal and civil cases; reveals more Abacha loots are being recovered," undated statement posted June 30, 2013.)
Completed
Assets Returned to Victim or Requesting Jurisdiction
$36,016,200
No
According to a statement posted on the website of Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Justice, the Minister of Justice stated that GBP 22.5 million confiscated in Jersey were repatriated to Nigeria. (Source:  Federal Ministry of Justice, "FG assures speedy prosecution of criminal and civil cases; reveals more Abacha loots are being recovered," undated statement posted June 30, 2013.)   In 2010, Mr. Bhojwani was convicted in Jersey and concealing $40 million of his illicit proceeds in bank account in the jurisdiction.  According to the February 23, 2010 Judgment by the Jersey Royal Court (Samedi Division), the Prosecution alleged that in 1996 and 1997, Mr. Bhojwani "negotiated with officials serving as part of the military dictatorship of General Abacha, who was at the time the de facto President of Nigeria.  The contracts were for the supply of vehicles to the military, and it is alleged that the contracts were at a significantly inflated price such that an ollegal surplus of about US $130 milllion came into the applicant's bank accounts in Jersey.  It is alleged that the surplus was transferred by the applicant to bank accounts in other countries linked to the Abacha regime."    According to the judgment, the Attorney General of Jersey indicated that 'In the event that Mr. Bhojwani is convicted in Jersey and the assets that represent the proceeds of his crime are lawfully confiscated then I will of course consider the possibility of a legal agreement to share assets."  The investigation was initiated by a letter of request, sent in 2002, by Nigeria's private attorney, Mr. Enrico Monfrini to Jersey authorities. (Source: AG v. Bhojwani, 2010 JRC 042, Judgment dated February 23, 2010.)  His conviction was affirmed by the Jersey Appeals Court in February 2011; the Appeals Court also upheld the assessment of GBP 65,000 in prosecution costs against Mr. Bhojwani, calling the sum modest for a complex case.  (Sources:  Raj Arjandas Bhojwani v. The Attorney General, Jersey Court of Appeals, 2011 JCA 034 and 2011 JCA 035, both dated February 10, 2011.)   In June 2011, the Government of Jersey stated that, "It is now anticipated that discussions will take place with the government of Nigeria regarding the repatriation of some of the confiscated funds which are held in Jersey. Approximately US$170 million connected with the Abacha investigations has already been returned by Jersey to the Nigerian authorities as part of previous asset sharing agreements." (Source: States of Jersey, "Funds confiscated from money launderer," June 7, 2011.)

According to a 2008 article by Attorney Enrico Monfrini, an appeal was pending before the Nigerian Supreme Court in the criminal cases arising from charges filed in 2000 and 2001 against Mr. Abacha's sons and associate. (Source: Enrico Monfrini, "The Abacha Case," in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets (Peter Lang, 2008), accessed at http://www.mcswisslaw.com/pages_e/2008%20Monfrini%20-%20The%20Abacha%20C.... According to the Royal Court of the Isle of Jersey, Mr. Bhojwani was convicted of two counts of converting the proceeds of criminal conduct and one count of removing the proceeds of criminal conduct, contrary to art. 34(1)(b) of the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999. (Source: Attorney General v. Bhojwani, 2010 JLR Note 34 (June 25, 2010), accessed at http://www.jerseylaw.je/Judgments/JerseyLawReports/Display.aspx?url=cases\JLR2010\JLR10N034.htm.)

Attorney General's Office
Attorney General; N.M. Santos Costa (for the Attorney General of Nigeria)
Royal Court (Samedi Division)