British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has ordered the extradition of alleged arms broker and consultant Sanjay Bhandari to India to face tax evasion and money laundering accusations.
According to Home Office sources, Mr. Bhandari has 14 days until the end of this month to file an appeal with the administrative division of the High Court in London against the extradition order.
The 60-year-old was subject to two extradition petitions from the Indian government, one for money laundering and the other for tax evasion. Two months have passed since a British court determined in November that Mr. Bhandari may be extradited to India to face tax evasion and money laundering accusations, paving the path for the British government to seek his extradition.
District Judge Michael Snow, who handled the case at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London last year, found that there are no impediments to his extradition and sent the issue to Home Secretary Braverman, who is of Indian descent. The judge found a prima facie case had been established with relation to both extradition requests.
“He failed to report his foreign earnings and assets…
He gained from undisclosed income and possessions. The court ruled that a reasonable jury can infer profit from the defendant’s unreported income and purchase of considerable properties abroad.
Mr. Bhandari was arrested on an extradition warrant in July 2020, one month after the then-U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel had confirmed the Indian government’s extradition request for him.
The court granted the London-based businessman bail while he battled extradition on the cases brought against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
According to court records, Mr. Bhandari is wanted in India for alleged violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 and the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Asset), Imposition of Tax Act 2015 and Income Tax Act 1961.
Mr. Bhandari, who was a tax resident of India at the time in 2015, is accused of concealing overseas assets through the use of backdated documents, profiting from the assets that were not declared to the Indian tax authorities, and then fraudulently stating that he did not possess any overseas assets. He rejects the charges, however.
On behalf of the Indian authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of the United Kingdom contended that Mr. Bhandari’s actions constitute “fraud by false representation” in British law.
Mr. Bhandari’s defence team attempted to argue against the prima facie case and also on human rights grounds, claiming a “real risk” that he would be subjected to torture by the police and of a breach of his Article 3 ECHR rights due to the conditions in Indian prisons, from “non-state agents and from the prison guards”.
In this instance, assurances were provided. “According to the Government, the defendant would be kept in ward No. 4 of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar Jail Complex in New Delhi,” the court stated.
“India is a friendly country ruled by the rule of law. I have not been informed of any broken promises,” the statement continued.