Missing $50 million case in Seychelles split in two: money laundering and weapons charges
The Palais de Justice which houses the Supreme Court. Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The case of the missing $50 million before the Seychelles Supreme court on Friday was split in two: money laundering and terrorism.
Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2004, the first three suspects who were arrested in the case, a couple and a senior officer in the Seychelles People's Defence Forces, will remain in police custody for 30 days.
During a search at the couple's residence, the police discovered a rifle with ammunition which is linked to the third suspect. As Prevention of Terrorism does not fall under the mandate of the Anti-Corruption Commission, the police have taken over this side of the investigation, with the Attorney General's office arguing the case, effectively splitting the investigation in two.
The courts learned that there were 75 firearms and 124 magazines originating from countries such as Russia, Bulgaria and South Africa and a large amount was found at the couple's home.
The three suspects held on the terrorism charges have so far remained silent when interviewed by the police.
Chief Justice Rony Govinden, the presiding judge, said that a prima facie case has been proven and that the suspects would be remanded as there was the possibility that they may dispose or tamper with the remaining firearms should they be released on bail.
The three suspects will appear before the court on December 30.
Meanwhile, in the case of the missing $50 million, the courts have remanded for a further 14 days a male suspect who is a former government official. At the time of the alleged incident, the suspect was one of the directors of the Compagnie Seychelloise de Promotion Hôtelière (COSPROH), an entity set up to manage state-owned hotels and tourism properties through long and short-term agreements.
The court believes that should the suspect be released while ACCS continues its investigation, there is a chance that they may interfere with the investigation or abscond.
The $50 million was granted to the Seychelles' government by the United Arab Emirates in 2002. The fund was transferred to a bank account of the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB), now the Seychelles Trading Company (STC), in a Baroda bank in England.
The female suspect -- who was the director general at the Ministry of Finance at the time the $50 million disappeared -- remains out on bail and is still a person of interest.
Her release is on the condition that she surrender her passport and other travelling documents to the court, refrain from interfering with witnesses and report to the Beau Vallon police station weekly.
All five suspects will be back in court on December 17 for the missing $50 million case.