Accused arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s bail eased for son’s wedding in UK

Sanjay Bhandari, an accused arms dealer is contesting his extradition to India on alleged tax evasion and money laundering charges
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 17:11 IST

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London: Sanjay Bhandari, an accused middleman in the defence sector contesting his extradition to India on alleged tax evasion and money laundering charges, on June 21 had his bail conditions eased to attend his son’s wedding at a hotel in south-east England.

The 62-year-old, who had won permission to appeal against his extradition order in the High Court in London earlier this year, applied to the city’s Westminster Magistrates Court through his lawyers to be allowed to reside at a hotel address between July 7 and 11, instead of his court registered London address.

As part of an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) – representing the Indian authorities in the extradition proceedings, part of Bhandari's bail conditions while his extradition appeal remains ongoing have now been “varied”.

“The bail will be varied between July 7 and 11,” Judge Briony Clark stated.

Then UK Secretary of State, Suella Braverman, had ordered Bhandari’s extradition to face criminal proceedings in India last year following a Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruling in November 2022.

In March, Justice Pushpinder Saini at the Royal Courts of Justice granted permission to appeal to the businessman, who offered consultancy services to defence manufacturers bidding for Indian government contracts through his firm Offset India Solutions.

“I am satisfied that the grounds are reasonably arguable,” Judge Saini said, paving the way for a full appeal hearing expected later in the year.

The basis for the appeal is that District Judge Michael Snow had “erred in his conclusions” that the offences were extradition offences and a prima facie case had been established against Bhandari.

The case concerns two extradition requests from the Indian authorities, the first concerning an allegation of money laundering, contrary to Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 in India.

The second request concerns an allegation of wilfully attempting to evade a tax, penalty or interest chargeable or imposable under the Black Money Act 2015 contrary to Section 51 of that act in India.

Bhandari, who was a resident of India for tax purposes at the time in 2015, is accused of concealing overseas assets, using backdated documents, benefiting from the assets not declared to the Indian tax authorities and then falsely informing the authorities that he did not possess any overseas assets.

He denies the allegations against him and has been fighting his extradition since the first request was certified by the UK Home Office in June 2020.

The CPS, on behalf of the Indian authorities, has argued that Bhandari's conduct amounts to "fraud by false representation" in the British jurisdiction.

Published 21 June 2024, 17:11 IST

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