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Sixth suspect in missing US $50 million case to remain in custody |30 November 2021

The sixth suspect, the third female, arrested in connection with the allegedly misappropriated US $50 million donated to the Republic by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2002 is to remain on remand until December 10.

The suspect was produced before presiding judge Chief Justice Rony Govinden at the Supreme Court yesterday morning, whereby the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) filed an application for her to be detained in accordance with the law, pending further investigations.

According to private lawyer and prosecutor for the ACCS Tony Juliette, the key element to the suspect’s arrest surrounds four transactions received by her Australian bank account between January 2007 and November 2010, in excess of US $700,000, from accounts wholly held by the first suspect in the case.

Mr Juliette informed court that the suspect was unable to provide a viable account for the incoming funds, claiming that she did not realise that the funds had been deposited into her account, that she did not know about the originator of the fund transfers, and that a proxy was responsible for the transactions on the account between 2007 and 2012.

Furthermore, Mr Juliette pointed out that at the search of the suspects’ property, “extensive government records were discovered in the office of the former President, and in the suspect’s study, demonstrating the involvement of the former President in the Abu Dhabi funds, and the extent for fictitious projects used to substantiate the investment”.

After having heard the submissions of both attorneys and considered the averments forwarded, CJ Govinden dismissed the grounds raised by attorneys for the client Joel Camille and Daniel Cesar, who argued that their client’s arrest on Friday was in bad faith and malicious.

CJ Govinden stated that there is no merit to the argument, considering that their client was interviewed on Friday and presented to court at the earliest reasonably practicable time after the 24 hour timeframe stipulated by Article 18 of the Seychelles constitution.

“Bearing in mind the totality of the facts of the case, which includes the following; the relationship between the suspect and the late Albert Rene and that of his assets and financial interests, her wealth and influence, the nature and sensitivity of this investigation, that the applicant needs to further conduct, and the fact that incriminating evidence has been found at her residence, this court finds that there are substantial grounds to suspect that if released on bail, this suspect may either interfere with the investigation, or otherwise flee the course of justice,” CJ Govinden stated, granting the prosecution’s remand application, while it seeks full disclosure of the suspect’s business interests, involving other suspects.

The suspect was arrested on Friday November 26 at 10.51 in the morning at Petit Barbarons, in relation to the offence of money laundering, contrary to Section 3(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Amendment Act 2021.

As per prosecutor Juliette, the ACCS is investigating the initial appropriation of a USD $50 million loan from the Abu Dhabi government in 2002. Records obtained by the commission indicate that the funds were misappropriated, never included in the accounts of the Republic of Seychelles, and as such, never available for the intended purpose of assisting with the national balance of payments deficit.

It is the view of the commission that the funds were misdirected to private company accounts and subsequently, used to purchase government assets, namely three hotels and one plot of land through parastatal organisation, the Compagnie Seychelloise de Promotion Hôtelière (Cosproh). The three hotels and plot were privatised over the course of 2002 to 2005, and the funds once again allegedly misappropriated and removed from the government account.

The first five suspects are due in court on Friday December 3.


Laura Pillay

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