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August 25, 2018

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Scotland Yard nab Karachi businessman on US request

LONDON: Scotland Yard have said that it arrested Pakistani businessman Jabir Motiwala on the extradition request filed by the American government in relation to allegations of conspiracy to commit blackmail, import class-A drugs and money laundering in the USA.

The police told this scribe that the arrest of 52-year-old Karachi businessman Jabir Motiwala – also known as Jabir Siddiq & Jabir Moti – has been made on request of the USA authorities but the police didn’t comment on the Indian government connection with this arrest as it’s suspected that the British authorities acted on a joint request by both the countries.

The police said that Jabir Motiwala was arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit during a dawn raid from the Hilton Hotel near Edgware Road in the early hours of Friday August 17 – a day after the Karachi businessman landed in London from Dubai to spend Eidul Azha with his son who is a student at a London university. The police spokesman said that the arrest warrant had been issued by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

On Tuesday, the businessman was presented before the judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court where the bail was refused by District Judge Margot Coleman who said she was not persuaded to grant him bail as he could flee the country or commit further offences.

The judge said: “I am not persuaded to grant him bail. The US operates on a system of mutual trust with the UK. They state they have evidence to support these claims and I am entitled to take that at face value. These are serious allegations and there are grounds for fearing further offences will be committed and that you will fail to appear.”

During his appearance at the court, Jabir Moti looked relaxed and he spoke only to confirm his name. Jabir Moti was represented by Toby Cadman, an international law expert, who rejected the charges against his client.

During the hearing he confirmed that Jabir Siddiq Moti was arrested on a provisional warrant issued by the United States of America on August 16, 2018 in relation to an offence of conspiracy to import narcotics. He was produced before a District Judge on August 17, 2018 and the hearing was adjourned till August 21, 2018 whereupon he was arrested on a second warrant for offences of money laundering and extortion.

Leanna Bezzant, representing the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), read out the charges, which carry a prison sentence of 25 years, against the Pakistani national. The CPS, acting on behalf of the US authorities, linked Jabir Moti with Dawood Ibrahim and his alleged network.

She told the judge: “He is a senior member of the D-Company, a Pakistan organised criminal network, that is involved in terrorism, drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, money laundering and extortion. Since 2012 the FBI have been investigating D-Company and its members and associates. The leader resides in Pakistan and its smuggling routes go through South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Jabir Moti is one of the top lieutenants in it. It is based in Karachi.”

She claimed that Moti reports directly to the leader of D-Company, Dawood Ibrahim, and attends meetings with him and with other associates and “reports directly to him when engaging in criminal activity”.

The CPS claimed that Jabir Moti was involved in extortion, debt collections and that he travelled extensively to conduct meetings on behalf of the leader of D-Company. “He met undercover agents in the USA and Pakistan and admitted to being involved in trafficking narcotics generating large amounts of cash to fund illegal activities. As much as $1.4 million has been laundered to date,” Bezzant claimed, adding: “D-Company uses violence to resolve business disputes in the USA and abroad and extortion to solve debt. They intimidate members of debtors’ families in Pakistan and India and make 50 percent of their profits from this.”

During the course of the hearing at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Cadman argued on behalf of Mr Moti that the first warrant was invalid as the information provided by the Prosecution did not match the information contained in the warrant. This was rejected by the District Judge. Further, a bail application was made on his behalf which was also rejected.

Mr Cadman noted during the hearing that although this was a provisional warrant, a little information was put before the court to which he could adequately respond and these were unsupported allegations.

The US now has 65 days, starting from the first appearance before the District Judge on August 17, 2018, to serve the full request where the full information will be disclosed.

The lawyer argued during the hearing that although the allegations are very serious, there was no evidence before the court at this stage and that this should be approached with some caution. He noted that there is the presumption of innocence and a presumption in favour of bail. Mr Cadman confirmed at the hearing that his client strongly denied the allegations in their entirety and denied any involvement with any organised crime or terrorist organisation.

It was argued on his behalf that he is a successful businessman in Pakistan and was in the UK on a 10-year visa and has visited the US previously. Mr Cadman confirmed that his client was a man of good character and had never been arrested in any jurisdiction.

Regarding the allegation that he may have multiple passports, Mr Cadman confirmed that he had only Pakistan citizenship and one passport that was in the custody of the police following his arrest.

Following the hearing, a media report on Indian news channel CNNNews18 claimed that Mr Moti confirmed that Dawood Ibrahim was in Karachi. This does not correspond to what happened during the hearing in which Mr Moti only spoke to confirm his name and address and Mr Cadman during the hearing did not mention Dawood Ibrahim or any person. This was merely an allegation raised by the Prosecutor.

Record of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court also confirmed that Mr Moti spoke only once to confirm his name and neither he was questioned nor he spoke at any stage.

A relative of Jabir Motiwala told that Jabir Moti belonged to a highly respectable business family of Karachi. His father was amongst a handful of businessmen who started Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) in 1953 and made a name for himself through hard work. The family source said that Jabir Moti has travelled to London on dozens of occasions and has been a frequent visitor to Middle East, Europe, America and many other countries. He has business interests in several countries including Pakistan and UAE.

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