Valabhji case: $4m worth of shares to be surrendered to Seychelles government
The Anti-Corruption Commission Seychelles (ACCS) has announced that its investigation ‘Project Black Iron’ relating to the theft of a $50 million loan given by the government of Abu Dhabi to the government of Seychelles, has led to the first asset seizure following an interim order issued on August 23 by Judge Mohan Burhan of the Supreme Court of Seychelles.
The seizure forms part of a financial crimes case against businessman Mukesh Valabhji and his wife, Laura, as well as Fahreen Rajan, who has been charged with several counts of forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Valabhji is the main suspect in the case of the missing $50 million loan, which was initially thought to be a grant. However, further investigation has identified that it was a loan, according to the ACCS.
The judge “ordered that shares purchased illegally from criminal conduct in AP Towers Holdings PTE Limited (Company Registration No 201937707D) were to be surrendered to the Government of Seychelles […] they will be sold to contribute to Treasury funds and the value achieved will be consistent with a market value for the 4,954,491 ordinary shares concerned. A value of just below $4 million is likely to be achieved,” said the ACCS in a press statement on Thursday.
The case is based on a false document purported to be a loan agreement which enabled the purchase of shares in the Myanmar telecommunications company.
The Commission said that the documents and digital material found in its searches led to the identification of the share purchase and the false documents presented and that the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit (FCIU) will pursue a permanent order in the next 30 days following this interim order.
“Consent by the original owner, Ms Fahreen Rajan, has been received as the purchase was only made possible through the creation of false documents to support the assertion that the funds used were not proceeds of crime,” said the ACCS.
The process of asset confiscation will be overseen by the courts in Seychelles.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission will continue to hold people accountable for corrupt practices and the acquisition of illicit wealth and we will pursue through the Judiciary, proceedings to drive out corruption and financial misconduct in our country,” said ACCS Commissioner May de Silva.