UK court denies bail to 'top lieutenant of D-Company'

Aug 22, 2018, 20:01 IST | PTI

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Moti faces allegations of conspiracy to launder money and extortion that link up to terrorist offences as well as charges of drug trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years behind bars

UK court denies bail to 'top lieutenant of D-Company'
Dawood Ibrahim

Jabir Moti, described as a "senior member" and "top lieutenant" of organised crime and terror network D-Company, was today denied bail on charges of money laundering and extortion by a UK court after the judge concluded that he was a flight risk. The 51-year-old Pakistani national, who appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates' Court here today after being arrested by Scotland Yard's Extradition Unit last week, faces extradition to the US following an FBI investigation dating back to 2005, the court was told. The D Company refers to the network of the underworld don and India's one of the most wanted terrorists Dawood Ibrahim. The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Moti faces allegations of conspiracy to launder money and extortion that link up to terrorist offences as well as charges of drug trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years behind bars.

The accused, referred to in court as Jabir Siddiq Moti, was remanded in custody to appear before the same court via video link from jail next Tuesday, when he can make a further application for bail. "I am not persuaded to grant you bail. These are very, very serious allegations¿ there are substantial grounds to believe you will fail to appear before the court or commit further offences,¿ Judge Margot Coleman said in her ruling.

"The US is a democracy, which runs on the rule of law and we function on a system of mutual trust between our countries. So, if they say there is evidence to support the allegations, I am entitled to take that at face value," she said, in reference to the US authorities' extradition request. The court was told that Moti had been under investigation by the FBI as a key aide of D-Company, "named after the leader of the company based in Pakistan", associated with trafficking and money laundering through international smuggling routes across South Asia that were also linked to terrorist funding.

"For a fee, D Company uses the power of violence for debt collection and has a reputation of intimidating members of the family of its debtors in India and Pakistan," the prosecution said in its case summary. In his interactions with undercover agents in the US and Pakistan, Moti allegedly admitted to being involved with narcotics and dealing with large amounts of cash and the court was told that it is believed he is behind nearly USD 1.4 million laundered to date. Moti's defence attorney, Toby Cadman from the law firm Guernica, disputed the charges as unsubstantiated, describing his client as a businessman from Karachi who has been resident in Dubai for many years.

"His father established the stock exchange in Karachi in 1953 and that is the basis of his successful and wealthy business," Cadman said, adding that his client "protests strongly" to the claims of his involvement with any organised crime group. He said that Moti was willing to be subjected to stringent bail conditions, with his son offering a "significant amount" as security, because it is in his interest to remain in UK to challenge extradition to the US and clear his name. Cadman also stressed that his client had never been arrested or charged in any jurisdiction and did not have citizenship or travel documents from any other country besides Pakistan - a document which remains in the custody of the UK police. According to details that emerged in court, Moti arrived in the UK on business on a 10-year visa and was due to leave the UK this week on August 22. Earlier today, before the judge began hearing the application for Moti's bail, his defence team had asked for the media to be banned from the hearing over safety concerns due to "reports appearing in the Indian media". Judge Coleman had turned down the request, saying: "We have open justice in this country."

A bearded Moti, who had been arrested by Scotland Yard's Extradition Unit on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit blackmail, import illegal drugs and money laundering in the US, appeared in the docks wearing jeans and T-shirt. The court was told that the "criminality is vague" as the warrant and the diplomatic note have some differences and should be deemed invalid. "This is just a provisional warrant, which allows for 65 days to present the paperwork to back up the charges," the judge said, allowing for the hearing to go ahead. The hearing, which was to begin this morning, was adjourned briefly as the judge decided that any "inconsistencies" between the provisional warrant and the diplomatic note can be dealt with over the 65-day period available for extradition matters.

Moti, referred to as Jabir Motiwala in the Metropolitan Police warrant, has been widely referred to as the financial manager of Dawood Ibrahim - the key accused in the Mumbai serial bomb blasts in 1993. Dawood remains on the UK government's recently-updated financial sanctions list. Financial sanctions in force in the UK could apply to individuals, entities and governments who may be resident in the UK or abroad. The UK Treasury department's 'Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK', updated on August 16, records Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar as the only "Indian" on its annually updated asset freeze list.

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