In a landmark achievement in the fight against corruption, Jersey and Mozambique have signed an Memorandum of Understanding for the return of GBP 829,500 (approximately MZN 66 million or USD 1 million) in proceeds of corruption which were hidden in a Jersey trust by a former high-level public official. The agreement for the return of the funds was signed by HM Attorney General Mark Temple KC of Jersey and His Excellency Alberto Paulo, Vice Attorney General of Mozambique. This marks Mozambique’s first-ever international asset return agreement and underscores the success of cooperation between the two nations.

The return follows a successful application by the Attorney General of Jersey to forfeit funds housed in a Jersey Trust, established by Mozambican national Carlos Fragoso. Fragoso, who purported to be a civil engineer seeking to secure his family’s financial future, held prominent positions within Mozambique’s infrastructure sector, including Directorship of the National Directorate of Roads and Bridges and Presidency of the National Road Administration.

However, investigations revealed that Fragoso’s assets were sourced from illicit payments by companies vying for construction contracts in Mozambique, casting suspicion on the legitimacy of funds stowed in the Tolvex Trust. Leveraging provisions within the Forfeiture of Assets (Civil Proceedings) (Jersey) Law 2018, Jersey’s authorities successfully obtained forfeiture of the tainted funds, setting the stage for their repatriation to Mozambique.

Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, the returned assets will bolster Mozambique’s efforts to combat financial crime. Primarily earmarked for the enhancement of key enforcement agencies, including the Central Office for Asset Recovery and the Central Office for Combatting Corruption, the funds will also support the delivery of specialized training to sixty individuals from across Mozambique’s provinces, focusing on international and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Mark Temple KC, Jersey’s Attorney General, expressed his satisfaction with the agreement, hailing it as a testament to the efficacy of international collaboration in combating financial malfeasance. He acknowledged the invaluable assistance rendered by the late Gretta Fenner of the Basel Institute on Governance, underscoring the crucial role of specialized units within Jersey’s legal framework.

Echoing Temple’s sentiments, Mozambique’s Vice-Attorney General, His Excellency Alberto Paulo, lauded the return of illicitly diverted funds as a triumph for justice and the rule of law. He commended the professionalism and dedication of all parties involved, emphasizing the significance of cooperation in ensuring that public resources serve the common good transparently and ethically.

One notable aspect of this achievement is Jersey’s utilization of its 2018 civil asset forfeiture law to successfully forfeit the stolen funds. Encouraged by this success, efforts are underway to assist Mozambique in developing a similar legal framework, with the aim of enabling the recovery of more proceeds of corruption and crime for the benefit of its citizens.

The International Centre for Asset Recovery played a crucial role in facilitating the agreement, with special recognition given to the late leader Gretta Fenner for her contributions.

The partnership between Jersey and Mozambique sets a precedent for international cooperation in combating corruption and returning stolen assets. It is a significant step forward in the global fight against financial crimes and underscores the importance of collaboration between nations in addressing corruption.

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