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Top Story

September 29, 2018
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Judge says Jabir Siddiqman of ‘good character’ but refuses bail

Top Story

September 29, 2018

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LONDON: The Westminster Magistrates’ Court has refused to grant bail to Pakistani businessman Jabir Siddiq over fears that he could get access to another travel document and skip bail conditions if released even though the defence offered to deposit the unusual amount of £1 million in bail security.

The judge did say that she believed that Jabir Siddiq was a man of “good character” and a credible businessman who had no previous allegations or charges in Britain but said she could have considered giving him bail if bail security of up to £5 million was offered.

The Scotland Yard arrested Pakistani businessman Jabir Siddiq on the extradition request filed by the American government in relation to allegations of conspiracy to commit blackmail, import class-A drugs, money laundering in the USA and conspiracy to issue threats to extort money.

On Thursday, Lawyer Ben LLoyd read out the case of Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); James Lewis QC acted for Jabir Siddiq before the District Judge Emma Arbuthnot at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court here.

The district judge heard from both the defence and the CPS lawyer who opposed the bail and read out the list of allegations against Jabir Siddiq. He told the judge that the fact that Jabir was arrested from Hilton Hotel in London meant that he didn’t have own fixed address to live therefore the suspicion was that he could flee if freed on bail. The defence provided a permanent address on Edgware Road and assured that Jabir will abide by all bail conditions as he was a man of “impeccable character” and repute but while the judge accepted throughout that Jabir had genuine business and personal credentials but the fact, she argued, he went to Atlantic City for two days to meet two undercover FBI agents for an alleged narcotics and money-laundering deal gave rise to questions.

James Lewis QC told the court that at least two entrapment attempts on him were made around 2011 by the FBI, including the one in which Jabir had gone to the Atlantic City for two days an “entrapment” attempt was made by the suspected FBI agents. He told the judge that soon after reaching Pakistan, Siddiq reported the entrapment made on him to Pakistani police.

James Lewis QC regretted that the CPS believed in the allegations made by the FBI, describing Jabir Siddiq as a man of “impeccable character” who has never been involved in any “wrongdoing”. He categorically rejected allegations made by the FBI that he worked for an alleged Karachi-based criminal network and termed it a fiction, stressing that no proof of his involvement with any criminal syndicate has been furnished before the court.

He also revealed that the Metropolitan Police have been calling his friends and asking them questions about him. The defence QC told the court that Jabir’s grandfather was amongst the founder of Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and then Jabir made money through his business skills.

He said the UK, USA and most European countries have given him visas, enabling him to travel the world over holidays and to do business deals, after making checks on him and he would never have got visa if he was guilty of anything.

The defence counsel produced two witnesses before the judges who made statements in favour of Jabir. British Pakistani businessman Mumtaz Ghaffar Khan assured the judge that Jabir will stay at his flat if released on bail and an English solicitor told the judge that he knew Jabir for over two decades and found him to be a person of good character.

The prosecution’s lawyer Ben Lloyd told the judge that charges by the FBI against Jabir were of serious nature and carried maximum sentence of 25 years in prison in USA. He told the FBI believed that Jabir was a senior operative of a Pakistan-based network and reported directly to its leader. He alleged that this criminal network operated in many parts of the world including Africa and Europe and was involved in drug trafficking, extortion and various other criminal activities. He alleged that growth in Jabir’s wealth was as a result of his involvement in the criminal syndicate and he actively engaged in its activities and conspiracies including running of narcotics, violence and extortion, collection of debts through threats of violence. He alleged that Jabir was in contact with two associates of the groups based in New Jersey and met them.

District Judge Emma Arbuthnot acknowledged that Jabir was a man of good character and the testimonies provided by the witnesses for him were credible but she raised a few questions and said that these days it was easy to get hold of travel documents and influential people can easily organise such papers. The judge refused and stated she believed that there is flight risk if Jabir was granted bail. Jabir Siddiq was present in the court throughout the hearing and looked relaxed.

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