Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ketan Somaia charged in UK court

Kenyan businessman Ketan Somaia. Photo/FILE

Kenyan businessman Ketan Somaia. Photo/FILE 

By LUCAS BARASA

Kenyan businessman Ketan Somaia has been charged in a UK court where he was wanted for fraud.

The UK embassy in Nairobi said the businessman was however granted bail.

Mr Somaia was extradited to Britain from India last Wednesday.

India’s Daily Mirror newspaper said Mr Somaia, who was wanted in UK for fraud, was extradited more than six months after he was detained at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport following a notice issued by Interpol.

The paper said a team of British police headed by escort officer Peter Thody took Mr Somaia into their custody from the Mumbai Crime Branch at the airport on Wednesday afternoon.

An official at the UK embassy in Nairobi confirmed the extradition adding that Mr Somaia appeared in a UK court on Thursday and was released on bail.

He is wanted by the UK police for three counts of theft and fraud.

Mr Somaia is alleged to have siphoned 400,000 pounds belonging to a firm named Hemini PLC; for allegedly dishonestly transferring 400,000 pounds by representing that he was entitled to sell shares of Delphis Bank (Mauritius); and for stealing 100,000 pounds on April 16, 2002 from Hemini PLC.

The UK government had through Interpol, issued a red corner notice for Somaia on the basis of which he was detained by the CBI in Mumbai on December 18, 2008. The UK government had sought Mr Somaia’s extradition since then, but he complained of health problems and was first admitted at a private Heart care hospital in BKC and subsequently at a private critical care hospital in Juhu, where he remained admitted till his extradition.

Mr Somaia rose to prominence in Kenya with a questionable contract in the mid 80s to supply the 1987 All Africa Games in Nairobi.

Mr Somaia is a former sponsor of the Miss World competition through his Dolphin hotels, banking and motor trading group.

He is a former business associate of one-time Tory Party chairman Lord Parkinson. Parkinson was chairman of Dubai-based Dolphin Holdings for eight years before resigning.

Somaia, a Kenyan national of Indian origin has also previously been charged with defrauding a German-based businessman of 2.2 million Pounds.

He has been in custody in Mumbai, India since December 2008 after he was arrested there as he sought heart treatment in that country.

Other countries that have reportedly requested Mr Somaia’s extradition are Tanzania, Uganda and Mauritius.

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