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Missing US $50 million corruption case Bail application adjourned as female suspects are transferred to Montagne Posée Prison |22 January 2022

The four main suspects in the missing US $50 million donated to Seychelles in 2002 by the Abu Dhabi government will remain in custody until January 28 when the case, along with that of arms, ammunition and alleged conspiracy to commit terrorism, will be heard before the Supreme Court.

This came after suspect Laura Valabhji, through her lawyer Frank Elizabeth, informed the court that she was seeking an adjournment to her bail application.

It was during yesterday’s session that Chief Justice Rony Govinden was informed by Mr Elizabeth that his client wanted to adjourn her application based on the fact that she was considering counsel replacement.

He requested adjournment of the application to a later date, allowing his client sufficient time to ponder her decision.

The court equally requested that Mrs Valabhji, along with fellow suspect Sarah Rene, is transferred to the Montagne Posée prison.

Representing Mrs Rene, attorney Joel Camille requested that his client’s actual detaining place is maintained due to the fact that they are working on some documents to file before the court on a matter of urgency and such request if granted will facilitate the process.

On behalf of Mrs Valabhji, lawyer Elizabeth also noted that since his client has been moved to the Perseverance Police Station, not a single complaint against her has been made by either the police, or the ACCS about matters submitted to the court.

He also noted that since Montagne Posée is a prison and not a remand facility, he would have expected at least, a proper application, with an affidavit, stating the reasons clearly why they need to move her if there are any circumstances in respect to her detention at the Perseverance Police Station.

Representing the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS), lawyer Tony Juliette noted that since the Central Police Station is no longer being used as a detention facility, the cells in other stations are needed to hold other individuals.

Therefore, it has been decided that due to the availability at the Montagne Posée prison, it has been decided that it is the ideal place to remand the suspects.

Based on the request, Chief Justice Govinden noted that he will not interfere with the operational aspect of the police and therefore approved the request for the suspects to be detained at the Montagne Posée Prison.
Based on the decision, the second suspect in the case, Mukesh Valabhji, through his lawyer – Mr Elizabeth – requested that he also be transferred to Montagne Posée.

The request was rejected and Mr Valabhji will remain in detention at the Takamaka (Quatre Bornes) Police Station.

In another development, while in custody, Mr Valabhji granted the power of attorney to one of his staff over two of his overseas bank account, precisely in Singapore.

Chief Justice Govinden said the allegations are serious and that the power of attorney can affect the investigation in various ways.

The six suspects in the case are Laura Valabhji (accused of money laundering and concealment of property), Mukesh Valabhji (accused of conspiracy to commit official corruption, two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, several counts for stealing and official corruption charges and concealment of property), Leslie Benoiton (accused of official corruption, money laundering charges, concealment of property, and stealing by person in public service), Sarah Rene (accused of money laundering and concealment of property), Maurice Loustau-Lalanne (accused of corruptly approving the devaluation of three hotels and to enable such properties to be purchased by the first accused at a price lower than the true and proper value of such properties – official corruption and two counts of stealing, and Lekha Nair (accused of corruption and aiding and abetting theft).They will be joined by two other suspects, namely former Chief of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) Leopold Payet, retired lieutenant colonel and presidential chief security officer Frank Marie who are facing charges related to arms, ammunition and alleged conspiracy to commit terrorism matter before the Supreme Court.

Roland Duval


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