Justice Politics Transparency Uncategorized

Seychelles’s House of Cards is Beginning to Crumble

Factual errors continue to riddle one of the most high-profile cases Seychelles has ever seen. In an exclusive report, on the basis of confidential information overheard in the halls of the Seychelles Ministry of Justice in Victoria, more questions are unfortunately raised than answer. One thing is certain however, and that is that the prosecution in the case of the “missing 50 million US dollars” have not been completely upfront with the public, and their own evidence proves it.

For those unfamiliar, the saga begins with 50 million dollars donated by the government of the United Arab Emirates to Seychelles at a time when it was struggling to keep on the lights. Faced with a financial crisis in 2002, the money was meant to help pay outstanding balances to major creditors. In a surprising twist, allegations were raised that the funds were misappropriated; several government investigations occurred over the years, but no arrests were made until after the election of Wavel Ramkalawan in 2020, alongside his Vice President Ahmed Afif who himself had been previously implicated in having a role in the money’s disappearance. However, it’s important to note that all previous investigations did not point fingers to any of the current accused or held that there was no evidence the money was mishandled; Ahmed Afif has not been one of the nine Seychellois arrested.

As one of his first acts in office, President Wavel Ramkalawan decided to arrest nine people whom he and those leading the prosecution, the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles, decided had misappropriated the money. The entire case had been premised on the fact that the funds, which were held in an account belonging to a government entity, the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB), at the Bank of Baroda in London were allegedly transferred out to unknown accounts & subsequently pilfered, either through unauthorized expenses or someone stealing the money.

Now, personal accounts which have been exclusively obtained and whose authenticity have been corroborated beyond a shadow of a doubt, paint a picture which is significantly different. As was noted, the donation was meant to assist Seychelles in purchasing food, paying for electricity as well as making payments to creditors who were owed money.

According to insider information conveyed by concerned citizens working at the Ministry of Justice, who were able to provide confirmation that documents they had seen, including the financial evidence discovered by the ACCS, indicated that funds were not embezzled or misused. Rather, for example, on the 24 October 2002 a transfer of $6 million dollars was initiated to the Dutch Bank ABN AMRO. Cross referencing communications obtained by the ACCS between the late President France Albert Rene, who requested the donation, with His Highness of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa, who provided the funding, shows that President Rene listed debts at ABN AMRO as part of the usage that was going to be made of the donation; our insiders have also corroborated this.

Another clear example of funds that, despite allegations, were not misappropriated, was a $5 million dollar payment to the Malaysian petroleum company Petronas. Again, if we were to cross reference the initial request for funds from the former President Rene to the leadership of the UAE with the transfer initiated, we would find that this was actually described as one of the reasons the initial donation was needed, making the payment completely legal and within the scope of what the donated monies were meant to be used for.

Information from government sources have also given indication that proof has been found that the funds were actually transferred to the SMB’s own declared accounts, all known to the Seychelles government. For instance, 15 October 2002 saw $6.8 million dollars transferred to Nouvobanq, where we know from the publicly available COSPROH report that the SMB had a number of accounts which were routinely used for government business, including the repayment of creditors & debts. Quite simply, it seems like a lion’s share of the financial evidence obtained by the ACCS actually works against the Seychelles government’s case.

The government and prosecutors know this and, according to confidential conversations had, they have been panicking for some time. Although some of the defendants have been coerced into cooperation and made bail and others have had their charges dropped, others have been held for months on end in conditions that don’t comply with any legal system. International lawyers already filed complaints of intimidation and human rights violations, all of which have been ignored by the government. But filing a case which has been ongoing for 9 months on the basis of accusations which, quite frankly, are inaccurate is a severe problem and can bring this entire house of cards tumbling down.

Lies are like cockroaches; for every one you find, there are many many more hidden. The last thing this case can afford is any more lies coming to light. The government and prosecution can be sure they will. People are becoming more and more concerned with the absurd miscarriage of justice and political trial currently taking place in Seychelles. The time to put an end to this is now.

By Kate Flask

Kate Flask is an American freelance writer and digital nomad who studied creative writing in the UK. She has a personal and professional interest in East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands and Runs Seychelles Watch.

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