On 21 January 2022, Fahreen Rajan, a British-Canadian citizen, and single mother of 2 young children under the ages of 13 was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS). Ms Rajan was apparently detained because she is an employee of Mukesh Valabhji. Mr Valabhji was arrested on 18 November 2021 on charges also brought by the ACCS, which he vigorously denies.
Ms Rajan is the CEO at the firm which runs Six Senses Zil Pasyon in Seychelles and also a director at Intelvision and Capital Trading. In the absence of Mr Valabhji, Ms Rajan has been keeping the operations of these businesses running in order to pay employee salaries, local supplier bills and to meet various tax obligations. These transactions and her governance of them was carried out with the full approval of the ACCS. Ms Rajan acted transparently and in full cooperation with the Commission.
Ms Rajan was detained at the Seychelles International Airport as she was departing for a pre-arranged business trip and to see her children who have been living with relatives. The ACCS cited that Ms Rajan was a party to the alleged fraud for executing a power of attorney over Singapore bank accounts belonging to Mukesh Valabhji. This arrest came on the same day that the ACCS served an affidavit at the Supreme Court upon the legal counsel representing Mr and Mrs Valabhji, Mr Frank Elizabeth. The ACCS complained that Mr Elizabeth – who witnessed the power of attorney between Ms Rajan and Mr Valabhji – was himself now somehow part of the alleged money laundering scheme, forcing him to subsequently recuse himself as counsel. The ACCS alleged that Ms Rajan did not have their “permission” to act in such a capacity, even though the accounts in question were not under any restriction from the ACCS.
On 7 February 2022, after being in custody for 14 days without charge, she was further remanded for another 14 days, while the ACCS continues to look for evidence. It is questionable what grounds there were to arrest her in the first instance and hold her for this period of time without charging her with any offence.
Ms Rajan and her family have sought assistance from the British High Commission, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), as well as Elizabeth Truss, MP, the Secretary of State for the FCDO. No response has been received to date. The Canadian authorities have also been contacted.
Ms Rajan’s family stated: “Fahreen was stopped from boarding a flight to the UAE, with an onward connection to the UK, and arrested. We are deeply shocked and concerned for her safety – Fahreen is a single mother of 2 young children, with dual British and Canadian citizenship, and she was apparently detained for simply being an employee of Mukesh Valabhji.”
“On 5 January, Mr Valabhji gave Fahreen limited authority through a power of attorney (POA) to manage some of his bank accounts outside of Seychelles, so that his businesses could continue to run and to pay legal fees that have been accumulating. These were not restricted accounts, as the ACCS has explicitly said. She was arrested for simply obtaining the POA,” they added.
“We have contacted the British High Commission and to date, their only action has been to call Fahreen while she was on her way to a hospital. We have since also written to the FCDO and MP to intervene.”
“On 4 February, after spending 14 days in an inadequate remand facility, the court agreed to another 14 days in remand, while the investigators look for enough evidence to charge her. Is this the rule of law that is being followed in Seychelles? Should there not be evidence before someone is arrested? According to the affidavit recommending that she is kept under arrest, Patrick Humphrey, the ACCS’s hired investigator, stated that she had also invested money for Mukesh some 8 years ago, when in fact she has simply obtained a loan from Mukesh. In which way, shape, or form, is this illegal?”
The family further said: “What is most outrageous is that as a result of Fahreen’s arrest, her two small children, who really only want to see their Mum, are suffering. Fahreen did absolutely nothing wrong and was just doing her job.”