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Friday, 30 November 2012 11:18

National Assembly – Gros Derek drug ring includes politicians and banks?

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This week started with suspicions raised at the National Assembly on the possibility that politicians are related to the drug ring of Gros Derek and that banks helped in money transfers.
These serious allegations came forcefully when the leader of the Opposition, Paul Bérenger, in his Private Notice Question, came a second time at the National Assembly on Monday 26 November to raise the question of drug trafficking with Gros Derek as the main star of the show.

While Paul Bérenger came with questions on the matter in order to get precise answers from the Prime Minister on whether police enquiry has revealed any political and banking contacts , to which Dr Ramgoolam answered that ‘there is no envidence.’
Cehl Meeah, the elected third member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East, told the prime minister during supplementary questions that he has got evidence as to a huge sum of money transferred two days after the arrest of Gros Derek and that he has names of the banks and the persons involved. He even asked for a meeting with Dr Ramgoolam to submit such evidences; which he did two hours later.

The PNQ of Paul Bérenger read as follows:
“whether, in regard to the Gros Dereck case, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to –

(a) If the Anti Drug & Smuggling Unit, the National Security Service, the National
Coast Guard, the Mauritius Revenue Authority or the Financial Intelligence Unit had detected the existence of the Gros Dereck drug ring over the recent years and, if so, the actions taken, if any, and, if not, why not;

(b) The names of the persons arrested in relation thereto as at to date, indicating their previous convictions, if any, and

(c) if the scrutinizing of the cellular phones of Rudolphe Dereck Jean-Jacques, of
Ashish Dayal and of Moossa Beeharry has revealed any political and banking contacts and, if so, give details thereof.
In his reply the Prime Minister stated “that Government is firmly committed to tackling the drug problem in our country, and that the fight against the drug scourge remains one of the priority issues. The number of persons arrested in connection with drug related offences has increased from 1,504 in 2000 to 1,899 in 2010, 1,910 in 2011, and for this year, up to mid November, the figure is 1,921.

The Gros Dereck drug ring has been under close but discreet surveillance for quite some time as there was strong suspicion that the sea route was being used for drug trafficking. The vessel ZAYN II was intercepted and searched on 13 November, 2010 in which the following persons were on board -
Mr Anthony Begue
Mr Dereck Jean-Jacques
Mr Ashish Dayal
Mr Jeetendra Addaya

However, no drug was found. Their residences were searched on the same day and nothing incriminating was found. However, their monitoring was continuing and this is what led to the arrest of Mr Ashish Dayal on 12 July 2012 which in turn led to the arrest of Gros Dereck.”

The Prime Minister added that “the Director General of the Mauritius Revenue Authority scrutinised the financial affairs of Mr Rudolphe Dereck Jean-Jacques and all the members of his ring so far arrested and assessments have been raised and inscriptions made against their property.

As regards the Financial Intelligence Unit, two Intelligence reports were disseminated to two investigatory bodies, in Mauritius, namely ICAC and the Enforcement Authority under the Assets Recovery Act; the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has already taken the following measures - (i) it has served attachment orders on all the 132 vehicles registered in the name of Mr Dharamdev Balkissur, attachment orders on 4 vehicles on the name of Bramer Banking Corporation, 4 vehicles in the name of Barclays Leasing Company Ltd including the BMW used by Gros Dereck and 2 vehicles in the name of ABC Banking Corporation Ltd;

(ii) it carried out investigation on the house of Gros Dereck and has served an attachment order on this house at Cité Richelieu which is owned by his father, Mr Louis Roger Jean-Jacques;

(iii) it has served an attachment order on the house of Mr Ashish Dayal at Ollier Avenue, Quatre Bornes as well as on the house of Mr David Alexandre Jean-Jacques at Cité Richelieu.

So far, 11 persons have been arrested in connection with this case. They are Seewoosing DAYAL, Rudolf Dereck JEAN-JACQUES, Bruno Wesley CASIMIR, Hayesan MADARBACUS, Moossa BEEHARRY, Antoine Desire Fricheler AZIE, Jean Jimmy ALEXIS, Louis Jimmy MARTHE alias Colosso, Roukesh HEMRAJ, Dharamdeo BALKISSUR alias Soojeet, Jean Danilo Fabrice FRANÇOIS; of the 11 persons arrested so far, 8 of them have previous convictions.
All the mobile phones of all the persons arrested have been secured. Police has applied for a Judge’s Order to obtain -

(a) the registered name and address/es of the subscriber to the above mentioned telephone number;

(b) a list of all incoming and outgoing calls, including International calls, as well as SMS, including International SMS made to and from the abovementioned telephone number as from 1 July 2012 to 12 July 2012;

(c) the registered names and addresses of the recipients with their respective
 number/s, and

(d) the locations from where the phone calls were made and received.”
The leader of the House stated that “at this stage of the inquiry, as at today, I am advised that there is no information showing any person as being the political or banking contacts of the Mr Rudolphe Dereck Jean-Jacques, Mr Ashish Dayal and Mr Moussa Beeharry as well as the others.

Then followed a series of supplementary questions.
In view of the seriousness of the matter, News on Sunday is providing in extenso the questions/answers exercise as it went on at the National Assembly after the PNQ:

Paul Bérenger:
Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Prime Minister has provided us with 11 names of persons who have been arrested and, if I heard him correctly, 8 had previous convictions. I also heard him say that Gros Dereck was already on bail. Can I know apart from Gros Dereck, out of the 10 other persons, how many, when they were arrested recently, were already on bail?

The Prime Minister:
I mentioned the names of those who are on bail, Mr Speaker, Sir.

Mr Bérenger:
Precisely, the facility with which Gros Dereck was able to find bail, has the hon. Prime Minister looked
into that, what attitude the Police adopted and how is it that somebody convicted, on bail, reconvicted, gets bail again?

The Prime Minister:
Two cases are still in front of the Court, Mr Speaker, Sir. It is for the offence of Rebellion that he was arrested on 19 August 2008 and he only received bail on 08 September 2008. Mr Speaker, Sir, I am sure the hon. Leader of the Opposition knows that even though the Police objects to bail, sometimes after a time, they are given bail.

Mr Bérenger:
I heard the hon. Prime Minister saying that that gang had been under surveillance for some time. Has the hon. Prime Minister looked into the fact - how can we explain that for years and years - three, four, five years - there had been ‘signes extérieures de richesse,’ houses, luxury cars, luxury motorcycles and so on, before action was taken, including against a businessman who was the proud owner of more than 130 ‘voitures de location,’ supposedly. How can all these have taken place for a number of years?

The Prime Minister:
In fact, Mr Speaker, Sir, since 2004, on suspicious grounds they were being monitored for what I understand.  The MRA looked at all the details. As for the case of the cars, the person was doing leasing and rental. He has declared his increase in the amount of money that he was getting from his business. Therefore, they did not see at this point whether it was something else or was it from his business.

Mr Bérenger:
How come, in particular that an organised gang was able to function on board merchant vessels, Le Trochetia, for years again, without the Customs or the Coast Guards or anybody becoming aware of that organised gang on the vessel itself and near the harbour?

The Prime Minister:
Mr Speaker, Sir, in fact, this is not so. The ADSU has done tremendous work, I must say. They have, in fact, arrested many people on board of the Trochetia from time to time. They have arrested people who were throwing drugs on board. I won’t go into the details as to how the arrest was made, but they were arrested and brought to court. As I have explained, on 13 November - because they were monitoring, they were suspicious that these are the people who are doing this traffic. They had information from Intelligence. They allowed them to go on the boat. They allowed them to be at sea before arresting them. But, for some reason, they did not have any drugs on them and they had to be released. But later they were arrested. They were searched. Their houses were searched. Photographs were taken and sent to the MRA and monitoring was continuing. This is what led eventually to their arrest.

Mr Bérenger:
Can I take this opportunity to clarify one point which has shocked quite a number of people, including myself. After having failed to detect in this case ‘les signes extérieures de richesse’ and so on, the MRA, we are given to understand - has now laid a claim against Gros Dereck, that is, on the proceeds of crime, a Rs20-million claim on Gros Dereck. Is that the situation that the MRA, after having failed to do its work for all this time, is now claiming for Gros Dereck to pay income tax, out of the proceeds of crime?
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am not aware of this. What I have been told by the MRA is that they were paying their taxes.

Mr Bérenger:
Can I know whether - since we are taking about the MRA - hon. Minister Boolell, on 07 September, in a public meeting took to task both the MRA and the FIU? Has the hon. Prime Minister been provided information as to what led him to publicly criticise both the MRA and the FIU?
The Prime Minister: I did not ask him. I am not sure why that is. But I must say, Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Leader of the Opposition has been Prime Minister and some of the information is not given to anyone else. So, it could be well be that.

Mr Bérenger:
If I can move on, we have been informed that the Police have secured the portable phones of the persons concerned and have asked for Judge’s Order. Can we know the date on which – because this thing has been going on for a long time - the Police sought that Judge’s Order and what is taking place now?

The Prime Minister:
We must bear in mind, Mr Speaker, Sir, when Gros Dereck was arrested from then on, the Police started the inquiry and they eventually came to the conclusion that they must get to the telephones and, of course, they have to go for Judge’s Order, which was asked on 23 November, if I am not mistaken, but they are still waiting for the Judge’s Order.

Mr Bérenger:
How are we proceeding? Has it been brought to the Judge’s attention that time is of the essence, that this is absolutely urgent? Have the Police, at least, done that?

The Prime Minister:
Yes, I am told. I have asked that question too, Mr Speaker, Sir, and I am told yes. We can’t do otherwise. The Judge has to give the Order. I have also asked the question: why could not we get it? That is the way the procedures are.

Mr Bérenger:
Mr Speaker, Sir, I heard the hon. Prime Minister say that to date there is no evidence of political contacts between Gros Dereck, Ashish Dayal and Moossa Beeharry. I am myself surprised, but pending the Judge’s Order and the portable phones being scrutinised, has it been looked into, especially the allegations of political contacts of three hon. Members of this Legislative Assembly with Mr Ashish Dayal and Mr Moossa Beeharry, has this specifically been looked into?

The Prime Minister:
Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir, it has been looked into and there is no political contact between them. In fact, one of them lives in Richelieu and the other one in Quatre Bornes, but there is no evidence of political contact. I must say things as they are.

Mr Bérenger:
There has also been a public reporting of a Minister having intervened with a banker to obtain banking facilities for Gros Dereck. Has this specifically been looked into?

The Prime Minister:
Again, Mr Speaker, Sir, a lot of allegations have been made, but there is no evidence as at today, if there are, we will find out. But, as at today, there is none.

Mr Bérenger:
There were press reports also that a foreigner, convicted some ten years ago for drug trafficking and, therefore, has been in Beau Bassin prison for that long, played a key role in organising this ring with its international ramifications. Has this been looked into?

The Prime Minister:
In fact, Mr Speaker, Sir, this is being looked into. I can’t say more, but this is being looked into.

Mr Bérenger:
In fact, the report was that he was taking part in organising this ring from inside the prison, again with the use of portable phones. Now, we know, Mr Speaker, Sir, that recently this was terrible; ‘comme des petits pâtés,’ portable phones in prison of Beau Bassin. Can I ask the hon. Prime Minister, especially now that we are dealing with these 11 arrested persons, whether now measures are being taken for none of them starting with Gros Dereck, to be in possession of portable phones as he was allowed to when he was arrested and kept in a Police station at Moka?

The Prime Minister:
In fact, they have no telephone with them at the moment. That is what I have been informed, Mr Speaker, Sir.

Mr Ganoo:
Is the hon. Prime Minister aware that some suspects or their Counsels started to bargain with the ADSU for non-prosecution or immunity be granted to them and has the DPP given any directive to that bargaining process between the suspect and the ADSU?

The Prime Minister:
I am not aware of any bargaining. I can’t say for the DPP, but all I know is that Mr Ashish Dayal, when he was caught, started giving evidence.

Mr Bhagwan:
Can I ask the hon. Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that one of the suspects who has been arrested and is on bail, is being given special treatment on, supposedly, medical grounds and that he is having a VIP treatment at the Brown Sequard Hospital? Can the hon. Prime Minister look into that and inform the House?

The Prime Minister:
In fact that is not the case, Mr Speaker, Sir, and I have said to the Commissioner of Police that I can give him just general directions. I am of the view that those people arrested should be kept in prison and if they are not well, a doctor should come and see them. Because it is too easy, so many times you see that, they say that they have a heart problem; they should have dealt with this in the first place. My view is that they should be kept in prison; get a doctor to see them there and not transferred to anywhere else, that is my view.

Mr Jugnauth:
Is the hon. Prime Minister aware that political meetings have been held at the residence of Mr Dayal and whether the police is enquiring into whether the proceeds of this drug transaction have been used for political purposes?
The Prime Minister: Again Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member is just throwing mud, never, we’ve checked on this, never.

Mr Fakeemeeah:
Thank you, Mr Speaker, Sir, is the hon. Prime Minister aware that huge sum of money …That huge sum of money has been transferred only two days after the arrest of Gros Dereck from well known banks, money either belonging or involving Members of your Government and I would like to know what will be your stand if I come forward directly to you in the soonest possible meeting with genuine evidences.

The Prime Minister:
I must say to the hon. Member that there is no evidence of what he is alleging, but if he has evidence, I will welcome him to come to me and also going to the Police. He has to do both.

Mr Uteem:
Mr Speaker, Sir, one of the elements of the Gros Dereck case was Mr Moossa Beeharry who was allowed access to the prison and back to transact money. May I know from the hon. Prime Minister whether an investigation has been carried out to find out why he was not being searched and what remedial measures have now been taken at the level of the prison?

The Prime Minister:
Mr Imam Beehary is officiating at the prison since 1989 and not because of this case, but some time ago we had an order telling them that everybody has to be searched including the Imam.
Mr Baloomoody: This is a very serious matter indeed with regard to the judge’s order. Can I ask the hon. Prime Minister to inform the House who swear the affidavit, on behalf of the police, in that case and the exact date that the requests were lodged?

The Prime Minister:
I have just set the example - I would not know who would swear the Affidavit for the Police, but I know that the order was - I just mentioned the date I think the I just mentioned the date, 23 November I think.
Mr Bérenger: To conclude, can I know what measures have been taken concerning especially customs, ADSU and coastguards to prevent recurrence of that kind of ring of ‘réseau’ outside Mauritius, inside Mauritius just outside the harbour and whether the authorities concerned will be allowed to go to the bottom of things as far as political and banking contacts are concerned.

The Prime Minister:
I can assure the hon. Leader of the Opposition nobody is going to be spared in this because this is a matter of national security, it is a national issue and it is not in the public interest to do so. In fact, because we have been giving them additional resources, they are able to do more, that is why that also explains the determination of ADSU which I again congratulate and I’ve also mentioned in the Government Programme that we are going to get really high-tech technology which does not cost a lot of money. In fact, next time I go abroad, may be this would be arranged for me to look at before we buy it.”

Cehl Meeah
News on Sunday wanted to know the outcome of the meeting between Cehl Meeah and the Prime Minister on Monday afternoon: “In fact after the first part of the session at the National Assembly, I met the Prime Minister to whom I remitted the name of one parliamentarian and the banks having dealt with the transfer of funds. Dr Ramgoolam studied the papers and told me he was going to look into the matter.”

On Wednesday afternoon NoS went again to Cehl Meeah to inquire about any development regarding the matter:
“I think that 24 hours after he received the information he should have issued a communiqué on the issue so as not to ventilate speculations on the names of the parliamentarians involved. In the meantime he should have asked ICAC and the Police to carry an enquiry into the information given to him. If there is substance in what is found in the document, that is drug trafficking and transfer of funds, he should ask those involved to step down from their posts until the end of the enquiry. This would have been in the interest of democracy, shown the seriousness of government and the dignity of the Republic!”
Indradev Curpen

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