The High Court in Suva has ruled that Aneal Maharaj be extradited to face 15 charges ranging from fraud to money laundering in the US.
And Judge Justice Daniel Goundar refused a stay order on extradition proceedings yesterday.
He said Mr. Maharaj was a citizen of Fiji but his identity was not an issue.
At the time he allegedly committed the offences, Justice Goundar said Mr. Maharaj was a legitimate resident of the US.
In his ruling, Justice Goundar said as far as the extradition proceeding was concerned, there was no evidence of abuse of process by the authorities in Fiji or the United States, to justify a stay.
“As far as the extradition proceeding is concerned, there is no evidence of abuse of process by the authorities in Fiji or the US, to justify a stay,” he said.
“Stay is refused,” he ruled.
“Taking all these matters into account and Fiji’s obligation towards international co-operation to combat crime, I conclude that Mr. Maharaj be surrendered to the United States for trial on counts 1-7, 9 and 11-18 contained in the Second Superseding Indictment filed on 15 October 2008 in the United States District Court, Nevada.
“Accordingly, I issue a surrender warrant for Mr. Maharaj pursuant to section 19 of the Extradition Act of 2003.” Mr. Maharaj is charged with one count of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of structuring transactions to avoid reporting requirements, five counts of money laundering, one count of tax evasion, six counts of bank fraud, and one count of false declaration in relation to a bankruptcy petition.
Justice Goundar said Mr. Maharaj’s trial would be held in the US.
“The court has no jurisdiction to stay the trial that is to be held in the United States,” he said.
“Mr. Maharaj in his affidavit refers to various matters to support his grounds for a stay. The issues raised in the affidavit are argumentative and relates to his trial in the United States.”
Justice Goundar said given all those safeguards that were available to the defendants in the US, there was no basis to conclude that Mr. Maharaj’s trial would be oppressive or unfair.
This article was written by Mary Rauto and published by The Fiji Times Online on September 21, 2011.
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