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November 13, 2018

Jabir Siddiq extradition trial set for March next year

National

November 13, 2018

LONDON: A Karachi-based businessman will stand trial in March next year in his extradition case on money-laundering, class A drugs smuggling and extortion charges raised in the UK by American authorities and will remain in custody until then, a judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled on Monday.

Jabir Siddiq, also known as Jabir Moti or Jabir Motiwala, appeared before extradition judge Tan Ikram via a video link from his cell in Wandsworth prison in South West London for a short case management hearing. The judge remanded him in further custody and announced that the trial will take place in March 2019. He said the trial was not possible in February 2019, as previously set, because of scheduling reasons and non-availability of the counsel.

Jabir Siddiq was arrested by Scotland Yard officers from the Hilton Hotel, on Edgware Road, in August following an FBI investigation dating back to 2005. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting on behalf of the American law enforcement authorities , has alleged that Jabir Siddiq was a senior member of the D Company, a crime syndicate associated with Dawood Ibrahim.

The CPS lawyer told the court at a hearing in September that the summary of the US charges against Moti cover allegations of laundering USD 1.4-million of purported proceeds from narcotics smuggling and "conspiracy to collect credit extensions by extortionate means", amounting to around USD 80,000. He told the court that Jabir Siddiq has been involved in extortion and threats to people and there is evidence available for that. He told the court that the charges relate to a period between December 2011 and September 2012, which carry a maximum sentence of 25 years behind bars in the US.

He told the court: "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." Moti’s defence, led by Toby Cadman of Guernica law firm, has said it intends to depose a number of legal experts as witnesses in the case, with the key issues being "abuse of process and entrapment" by the authorities.

The 51-year-old had been denied bail during previous three hearings. His defence lawyer, Toby Cadman, has told the court that the allegation that Jabir Siddiq belongs to the D Company is baseless. He has told the court that his client is a man of "good character" and credible reputation as his family members helped build Karachi Stick Exchange (KSE).

The FBI alleges that Motiwala went to Atlantic City for two days in 2011 to meet two undercover FBI agents for an alleged narcotics and money-laundering deal but the defence says that he got trapped into it and unlawful methods were used to entrap him. The defence says that Jabir reported the incident of entrapment to the Pakistani authorities and was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

The investigating agency further alleged that he was also involved in smuggling of Class-A drugs in quantity of four kilograms into the country and issued threats to extort money from the proceeds of drugs sales and separately used threats and intimidation to collect money and rents from various people for the criminal syndicate he allegedly worked for.

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