Missing $50m case: Former SMB financial controller arrested, released on bail

A new suspect arrested in the case of the missing $50 million from a government account has been released on bail after appearing before the Supreme Court on Monday.
The bail sum was set at SCR 50,000 ($3,600) and the court ordered that the person does not leave the jurisdiction, surrenders passports and any other travel documents, and reports to the Beau Vallon police station every morning.
The suspect, who was a financial controller of the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB) at the time of the alleged crime in 2002, was arrested on Sunday on two offences; corruption and money laundering.
According to the court, “it is alleged that the suspect was a signatory on the operating bank accounts and allegedly sent letters authorising funds to be transferred to various recipients from the SMB accounts.”
The suspect is expected to reappear before the Supreme Court on February 4.
The case brought forth by the Anti-Corruption Commission concerns $50 million which went missing after the funds were granted to the government of Seychelles by the United Arab Emirates in 2002. The funds were then transferred to a bank account of the SMB, now known as the Seychelles Trading Company (STC), at a branch of the Bank of Baroda in England.
The prosecution alleges that the funds were 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.
Meanwhile, the six other persons who have been charged in the corruption case are expected to appear before the Supreme Court on January 21.
These include prominent businessman Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura Valabhji, Sarah Zarqhani Rene – wife of late President France Albert Rene; Leslie Benoiton – a senior officer in the Seychelles Defence Forces; 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.
Editorial note: In the case of the missing $50 million, SNA does not name suspects until they are charged.

Source: Seychelles News Agency