Mukesh Valabji and his wife Laura at the Supreme Court – file photo / 2021 (Seychelles News Agency, Rassin Vannier)
(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles’ Chief Justice Rony Govinden on Friday ordered, in relation to a notice of motion filed on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS), to amend the charges on the indictment faced by businessman Mukesh Valabhji, who was also the former economic adviser to President France Albert Rene, and Sarah Zarqani Rene, the widow of former President Rene.
According to the ACCS, the application is to amend the charges faced by the two suspects, including the substitution of charges and bringing additional charges.
The 14 proposed counts against Mukesh Valabhji are now alleged theft, official corruption and money laundering amounting to approximately $100 million between 1993 and 2012.
Zarqani Rene faces allegations of money laundering between 2002 and 2012.
The lawyers representing both suspects indicated that they would be opposing the application to amend the charges.
The next hearing is on April 27, by which date the defence lawyers are to have filed their written objections. The trial date remains May 11, 2023.
The case is related to $50 million loaned to the Seychelles’ government by the United Arab Emirates in 2002. The funds were transferred to a bank account of the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB), now the Seychelles Trading Company (STC), to a Baroda Bank account in England in 2004.
The prosecution alleges that the funds were then returned to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to pay for hotels sold in the privatisation of the COSPROH holdings, a state-owned enterprise that owned several hotels.
This is the second time the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) amended charges in the missing $50 million case.
Mukesh Valabjhi and his wife Laura, and Sarah Zarqhani Rene, were present in the Supreme Court on Friday morning where their lawyers requested more time to draft their objections to the latest amendments.
The Valabhji couple also appeared before Judge Mohan Burhan concerning their request for Chief Justice Govinden’s recusal from their cases.
The ACCS counsels requested more time to draft their objection to the motion.
The accused will reappear before the Supreme Court on April 21 for the recusal case.