Seychelles' missing $50m: Prime suspects plead not guilty to money laundering charges
Valabhji (3rd left) pleaded not guilty to all counts relating to abuse of authority, corruption, and money laundering. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency
Seychellois businessman Mukesh Valabhji and Sarah Zarqhani Rene, the wife of former president France Albert Rene, both pleaded not guilty on Thursday to 15 new charges brought against them by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACCS) in relation to the missing $50 million case.
The new amended charges, 10 against Valabhji and four against Zarqhani Rene, were filed by the ACCS on Thursday, May 19. It followed an amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act, 2020, by the National Assembly.
Valabhji pleaded not guilty to all counts relating to abuse of authority, corruption, and money laundering and Rene pleaded not guilty to all counts relating to money laundering.
The trial has been set for April 11, 2023.
The case, which concerns a missing $50 million of funds granted to the government of Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates in 2002, was brought forth by the ACCS in December of last year and is the largest corruption case ever brought before the courts.
All charges relating to the case were dropped against former accused Laura Valabhji, the wife of Mukesh Valabhji, Lekha Nair, former CEO of the Seychelles Pension Fund, who was director general in the Ministry of Finance at the time the funds went missing; and Maurice Loustau-Lalanne – former Minister of Finance, who was a member of the board of COSPROH at the time the funds were transferred.
Laura Valabhji remains in detention in relation to a second illegal firearms case in which she and her husband have been charged, after a cache of military arms and ammunition was found at their residence in the western Mahe district of Port Glaud during a search, after they had been arrested in a money laundering case.