Four suspects in missing US $50 million corruption case remanded again |04 December 2021
- Three could face charges for firearms and ammunition
Four of the six suspects arrested in connection with the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) investigation relating to US $50 million in funds allegedly misappropriated are due to reappear in court on December 17, after Chief Justice Rony Govinden yesterday granted the remand applications of the Anti Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS).
Five of the six suspects appeared before the Supreme Court yesterday afternoon, whereby private lawyer for the ACCS, Tony Juliette, filed applications to further detain them, while investigations continue in relation to US $50 million donated to the people of Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2002, but which was allegedly misappropriated, and never used for the intended purpose.
The first and second suspects, a well-known couple, were arrested on November 18, and appeared in court the following day where they were remanded. An extensive cache of military grade weapons and ammunition were found and seized from various searches of their home, namely, 72 firearms of the Dracuno, Makarov and AK type, 122 magazines, and 43,416 bullets.
Still in relation to the two suspects, Prosecutor Juliette informed court that the second suspect, the wife of the first, has during her remand detention allegedly had access to a telephone, her cheque book, as well as writing materials, which Mr Juliette said she allegedly used to write a letter to her husband, and notes relating to the matter, evidence not yet seized, and which contain ‘incriminating instructions’.
Similarly, the third suspect, a high-ranking army official, was arrested on Sunday November 21, and is alleged to have been involved in money laundering as the recipient of US $100,000 in September 2004, with the funds somehow linked to the missing US $50 million.
According to the prosecution, the third suspect’s name was branded on a 32-kilogram box containing 2560 bullets discovered at the first and second suspects’ shared home. Furthermore, Mr Juliette noted that the search of National Information Sharing and Coordination Centre, the facility at which the suspect serves, turned up 2 firearms which are the property of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces, 21 bullets, as well as documents to suggest that he allegedly imported or supplied the arms to the first suspects. In total 32 bullets were seized from the suspect and two magazines.
Despite strong resistance from the counsels of the suspects Frank Elizabeth and Basil Hoareau, CJ Govinden during his late ruling just before 8pm announced that court is satisfied that there are “justifiable grounds to extend remand” for a further 14 days, in relation the alleged ‘official corruption’ and ‘money laundering’ offences.
Still in relation to the three suspects, the police through the Attorney General’s office also during yesterday’s sitting filed an application seeking that the trio be remanded for 30 days, in relation to the extensive discovery of weapons and ammunition.
State Counsel Joshua Revera clarified that the arms found at the first and second suspects home were found on three different occasions with the assistance of sniffer dogs, and that the police and sniffer dogs detected five further areas which they suspect to be concealing firearms and ammunition. However, the police are presently unable to break down the walls to acquire the additional suspected arms, until the premise is handed over to the police by the ACCS. The search of the third suspect’s office and the two firearms kept in his safe at the NISCC were allegedly wrapped in plastic wrapping similar to that found at the first suspects’ home, namely black and white plastic wrapping bearing the Nesafe Logo.
Mr Revera averred that the firearms involved are not that of the Seychelles Police. He further informed court that the firearms imported in the country coincide with both Presidential and parliamentary elections, specifically in 2001, 2002, 2006, 2011 and 2012. The firearms are linked to Bolivia, Russia, South Africa and Switzerland among others.
Considering the application before him, CJ Govinden said the alleged offences of possession of a firearm and the alleged purchasing and acquisition of the arms are serious offences. CJ said therefore that court accepts the averment of the police that the suspects may have distributed or concealed the weapons elsewhere.
“I add that the vast amount of firearms and ammunition, on a prima facie basis, give the police reasonable grounds to believe that they were to be used to commit criminal acts, and cause violence on a large scale,” CJ Govinden stated.
The trio will reappear in court on December 30in relation to the offences under investigation by the police.
With regards to the fourth and fifth suspects, both former government officials were arrested on Tuesday November 23, and appeared in court the following morning. The woman was granted bail on conditions, while the man was further detained on remand.
As with the ruling on her first appearance, CJ Govinden granted the fourth accused an extension of her conditional bail, and she is due in court alongside the other suspects on December 17 in relation to money laundering offences. Bail conditions imposed on her first appearance included that she surrender passports and all travel documents to court, pay a bail sum of R50,000, as well as having to present at the Beau Vallon police station on Monday, weekly.
The fifth suspect, who at the time of the alleged misappropriation served as the co-director of the COSPROH parastatal organisation used to allegedly launder the funds to private and business accounts was also remanded until December 17.
Thus far, eleven warrants have been executed in relation to the allegedly misappropriated funds, and more are expected to be issued, in addition to additional arrests.
The sixth suspect in the matter is due in court on December 17.