Seychelles: key figures indicted as government tries to clean up nation’s reputation

Cape Town – One of Seychelles’ richest and most powerful men, his wife and former senior government officials are accused of laundering US $ 50 million as a new government elected last year , attempts to cleanse the country’s reputation as a center of financial crime.

Mukesh Valabhji and his wife, Laura Alcinder Valabhij, were arrested in November on suspicion of embezzlement and money laundering given to the Seychelles government by the United Arab Emirates in 2002, report Scilla Alecci and Will Fitzgibbon for the International Consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ).

The Seychelles News Agency reports that the Seychelles Supreme Court on Friday set bail at a record $ 2 million for one of the suspects, a woman the agency did not name.

The Valabhjis are said to have been close to former President Albert René, who ruled from taking power in a coup in 1977 until 2004, and whose party continued to rule until 2020 when the opposition , the Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS), swept power in a landslide victory.

When the new president, Wavel Ramkawalan, was sworn in, he pledged that the rule of law would be maintained under his leadership, declaring that “no one is above the law and the rule of law will remain one of the pillars of our democracy “. The money laundering case is brought to court by the Seychelles Anti-Corruption Commission (ACCS).

When two of the defendants first appeared in court, one told the Seychelles News Agency that it was “a political matter”.

The former government officials charged are a former director general of the Ministry of Finance, a director of an entity created to manage state-owned hotels and tourist properties and a senior officer of the Seychelles People’s Defense Forces.

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