Asean ex Saxena to remain housebound

2004-10-20 15:05 ET – Street Wire

by Stockwatch Business Reporter

Former Thai banker Rakesh Saxena has lost a court case to review his detention in Canada. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather J. Holmes has ruled there is no need to reconsider his detainment while he awaits other proceedings.

Mr. Saxena is wanted in Thailand in connection with the 1996 collapse of the Bangkok Bank of Commerce. In June, 1996, the Thai government accused Mr. Saxena, Krirk-kiat Jalichandra (the bank’s president at the time) and Adnan Khashoggi (once known as a Saudi arms merchant), of defrauding the bank of $2.2-billion (U.S.).

Mr. Saxena’s arrest

Mr. Saxena, who left Thailand by the time of the bank’s collapse, did not fly home to answer the charges. Fugitive Mr. Saxena turned up in Canada and was arrested in Whistler, B.C., on July 7, 1996, at a luxury hotel.

Since his detainment, Mr. Saxena has been permitted to spend most of his time under self-financed house arrest, first in a waterfront condominium in downtown Vancouver, and then in a four-bedroom house in Richmond. The RCMP, which has access to cameras installed in the house, is satisfied with the $10,000-per-week security arrangements.

Justice Maczko’s decision

Justice Frank Maczko, after a four-year extradition hearing, found on Sept. 15, 2000, that Mr. Saxena could be convicted of fraud in Thailand. Canadian law placed the decision to extradite in the hands of the then Minister of Justice, Martin Cauchon. Three years later, on Nov. 18, 2003, Mr. Cauchon ordered Mr. Saxena surrendered to Thailand.

Mr. Saxena is currently appealing Justice Maczko’s decision that allowed the minister to order Mr. Saxena extradited, however, a date has not yet been scheduled for the hearing.

Justice Maczko outlined the details of Mr. Saxena’s alleged crimes in his decision.

The Thai government said Mr. Saxena used his position as a bank employee to fraudulently borrow 1.6 billion Thai baht, equivalent to about $88-million, to finance the acquisition of three telecommunications companies.

The money did not end up being used for its intended purpose, according to the government. Former employees of Mr. Saxena in Thailand say some of this money was used to repay Mr. Saxena’s debts and some was whisked away to Mr. Saxena’s personal bank accounts in Switzerland. Mr. Saxena’s companies only repaid 650 million baht of the debt.

Mr. Saxena strongly denied the government’s allegations.

Justice Holmes’s decision

Mr. Saxena’s lawyer, Russ Chamberlin, argued that Justice Maczko’s decision was flawed. He said there is no indication the same evidence weighed by Justice Maczko would be available for Mr. Saxena’s trial in Thailand, should he be surrendered. Mr. Chamberlin also relied on a legal technicality to argue that the Thai arrest warrants for Mr. Saxena are invalid. He says the warrants were issued by police officers, and not a court. Thai law, as amended in 2002, requires the warrants to be issued by court.

Mr. Chamberlin said an assurance provided by the Thai government about how Mr. Saxena would be treated back home is also invalid. He says the assurance was not signed. It was only stamped “Minister of Foreign Affairs, January 20, 2004, Bangkok.”

The Crown, represented by federal prosecutor Roger McMeans, argued that the points raised by Mr. Chamberlin may all be raised at Mr. Saxena’s pending appeal, and there is no need for a special hearing.

Justice Holmes agreed. She said there is no urgent need to consider Mr. Saxena’s continued detention. She says there is no suggestion that Mr. Saxena will be forcefully deported before the Court of Appeal has considered Justice Maczko’s decision.

Justice Holmes’s decision leaves 52-year-old Mr. Saxena confined to his current home in Richmond while he awaits the appeal of Justice Maczko’s decision.