Prominent businessman in police custody following investigation in missing US $50 million |20 November 2021
A prominent local businessman, owner of various businesses, and his wife have been arrested and are being remanded in police custody for 14 days and will reappear in Court on December 3.
Both the businessman and his wife were arrested separately on Thursday.
The arrests followed ongoing investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) in a case related to a grant of US $50 million, donated in 2002 by Abu Dhabi as a gift to the people of Seychelles to buy essential food products. However, the money disappeared under the management of the public enterprise that was supposed to be responsible for its disbursement and it was never available to be used for its intended purpose.
It was before Chief Justice Ronny Govinden in the Supreme Court late yesterday morning that the ACCS, through its lawyer Tony Juliette, presented a motion requesting that the ACCS be allowed to prosecute the case.
To this, Justice Govinden replied that the ACCS does not need permission of the Court to proceed and prosecute on its own right. So the ACCS will soon prosecute the case of money laundering through a private lawyer without involving the Attorney General’s Office.
Also through Mr Juliette, the ACCS filed two applications before the Court requesting that the couple remain in police custody.
In relation to the wife, the applications detailed that there are various companies under her responsibility and with her legal expertise, she is very much aware of the dealings of her husband.
Through a search conducted at the couple’s residence, the applications stated that a lot of exhibits were seized including computers, mobile phones, expensive jewelry, weapons and ammunitions which have been placed under police watch while empty ammunition cases whose content are yet to be found have also been uncovered.
The commission has requested for more time to carry out further enquires in the case, including searching several properties and analyse the materials seized.
In view of the gravity of the offences against the couple, the commission requested that they be remanded in custody for 14 more days because if they are released the couple, because of their wealth, could do everything possible to obstruct the course of justice, interfere with potential witnesses, erase and destroy evidence.
For his part the couple’s lawyer, Basil Hoareau, detailed reasons while he believed the Court should dismiss the applications requesting his clients remain in police custody, describing all the reasons given as only “vague and blanket statements” without any clear facts to substantiate them.
He requested the Court to release his clients on bail with certain conditions.
But late in the afternoon Justice Govinden ruled that the offences were too serious and the ongoing investigation too sensitive for the suspects to be released and other than interfere with the course of justice, they were wealthy enough to leave the country.