Braverman ordered Bhandari’s extradition on January 12 this year. Bhandari has 14 days from January 12 to put in an application seeking permission to appeal both the decision of the judge and of the home secretary in the administrative court of the high court.
Bhandari, who was arrested in London on July 15, 2020 and has conditional bail, is accused by the Indian authorities of, whilst a resident of India, evading income tax between July 1, 2015 and February 7, 2017 contrary to the Black Money Act of 2015 and the Income Tax Act of 1961, by failing to disclose assets and income outside India, and also of money-laundering, contrary to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
It is alleged that he had a number of companies in India and in various overseas jurisdictions, and that he acquired significant income outside India and acquired assets in overseas territories without making disclosure of the same to Indian tax authorities. These included properties in the UK and in Dubai, companies in the UAE and in Panama, and deposits in foreign bank accounts. It is alleged that in order to avoid proper payment of taxes, he created false and backdated documents to distance himself from ownership of the assets.
It is also alleged that a scheme to launder money was devised by him whereby various sham transactions between a web of entities, incorporated in different jurisdictions, were executed and funds were moved through various bank accounts in different jurisdictions. The purpose of this was to conceal the source of funds and identities of the real owners with an intention to circumvent the anti-money laundering laws of not only India, but other countries as well.
Bhandari had argued at his extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court that he would be at a real risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in light of the conditions of prisons in India, the chronic overcrowding, and the risk he would face of extortion and violence in Tihar jail. He also argued the offences were not extradition cases, there was no prima facie against him and that he would not get bail in India, which would be a breach of ECHR Article 5.
On November 7, 2022 district judge Michael Snow sent his case to the secretary of state saying he was satisfied that extradition would not breach his human rights because of the Indian government’s assurances about the conditions he would kept in and that he was satisfied they were extradition offences, that there was a prima facie case and that the Indian courts do reserve the discretion to grant bail.
Bhandari faces a raft of criminal investigations back in India. He is being investigated by Delhi police for offences under the Official Secrets Act 1923, by the CBI for two cases of criminal conspiracy, cheating and “acceptance of illegal gratification”, and by the Enforcement Directorate in two other money-laundering cases.
Watch UK home secretary Suella Braverman orders extradition of defence middleman Sanjay Bhandari to India