The Chief Justice of Seychelles has ordered the prosecution in the cases of the ‘missing $50 million’ and terrorism to hand in any outstanding materials by April 29 so that pleas may be entered on May 20 after which the court will set a trial date.
All the nine accused in the case of the missing $50 million, intended as aid from the government of the UAE in 2002, appeared in court on Friday.
Laura Valabhji’s request for bail in both the money laundering and illegal arms case was denied by Chief Justice Rony Govinden, who is also the presiding judge.
Govinden said that “there is reasonable evidence that the second accused may tamper with evidence should she be released on bail.”
The application for Valabhji’s bail was made on March 8 by her defence team, consisting of foreign lawyers from global firm Kobre & Kim – James Lewis and Miranda Ching.
The case was brought forward before the court by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS).
Laura Valabhji was charged with money laundering while her husband, Mukesh Valabhji, a prominent businessman and former chairman of the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB) – a former state-owned food and commodities importer – has been charged with conspiracy to commit official corruption. Both are also suspected of terrorism as a result of a cache of arms found at their residence at Port Glaud on the main island of Mahe.
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Valabhji, who was a prominent lawyer upon her arrest, revealed that there were documents seized when she was arrested that pertained to her law firm and were unrelated to her current charges.
The court ordered both parties to choose an independent attorney to sift through the Limited Liabilities Partnership (LLP) documents, those confiscated either at her residence at Port Glaud, her law practice or even on her at the time of her arrest.
Due to Valabhji’s unwillingness to assist the Anti-Corruption Commission to sift through the documents at the time, both parties will now have to choose the independent lawyer and split the fees between them.
“We will now have to look for the lawyer locally, should we be unable to find one, we will have to look overseas,” explained ACCS’ counsel, Anthony Juliette.
Govinden ordered that the matter is to be agreed upon by April 15.
Meanwhile, the bail conditions and remand for all the other accused in both the illegal arms and the corruption cases remain the same. They will all reappear before the courts in 14 days.