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Devani expected in London court Thursday

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – Runaway billionaire businessman Yagnesh Devani who was arrested in London last week was expected in court on Thursday morning to know his fate after his lawyers declared intention to challenge his extradition proceedings.

Mr Devani was expected to appear at the Westminster Magistrate’s court for confirmation of when extradition proceedings against him would formally commence.

His lawyers have indicated that they will be seeking to have him released on bond pending the extradition proceedings which they are also opposed to.

The 46-year-old business tycoon is wanted to face charges in Kenya over the Sh7.6 billion Triton oil scandal.

He was arrested at an address in Northwood, northwest London last week after police issued his warrant of arrest following a request by the Kenyan government.

Authorities in Kenya are at pains to explain if Mr Devani’s arrest and extradition is a deal reached with the UK which is seeking the arrest of Nambale legislator Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company Chief Executive Samuel Gichuru.

Mr Okemo and Mr Gichuru are wanted in the UK for allegedly laundering nearly Sh1 billion acquired through corrupt means when they served at the Energy Ministry and KPLC top portfolios respectively.

British High Commission officials in Kenya last week told Capital News that Mr Devani would only face extradition to Kenya once he undergoes proper court proceedings there as required by the law.

"He is being held in custody by the District Judge, City of Westminster Magistrate\’s Court," An official at the UK High Commission in Nairobi John Bradshaw told Capital News.

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"He was arrested on behalf of the Kenyan Authorities on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. Mr Devani appeared at City of Westminster Magistrates\’ Court on the same day and was remanded in custody."

However sources close to Mr Devani indicated that the businessman would fight to block the extradition. His lawyers in the UK were making frantic efforts to obtain orders from higher courts to stop his removal from Britain.

Mr Devani fled the country in 2007 in the wake of mounting pressure by oil companies following Triton Petroleum\’s failure to make deliveries for oil imports estimated to have been worth Sh7.6 billion.

Triton had won the tender to import on behalf of other oil companies. The Triton Oil scandal involved the unauthorised release of oil by the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) without informing financiers.

A Nairobi court issued a warrant for his arrest and Interpol was directed to pursue him.


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