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Why CBI has booked Indians for ‘theft, embezzlement’ committed in UAE & Saudi Arabia

Cases registered under special treaty that allows CBI to locally prosecute Indians accused of crimes in Saudi Arabia and UAE — instead of extraditing them.

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New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered three separate cases against Indians who allegedly fled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia after committing fraud there, ThePrint has learnt.

The cases were registered on 31 December 2021 as part of a special treaty signed in 2000 between India and the UAE, and India and Saudi Arabia, which allows the CBI to locally prosecute Indians for crimes committed in those countries, without having to extradite them.

In 2016, the CBI was designated the nodal authority to locally prosecute such offences and to obtain sanction for prosecution from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The UAE had initially sought the extradition of 15 Indians in 2020, 13 of whom were allegedly involved in cases of “issuing a dud cheque”, one in an alleged case of “embezzlement”, and another accused of “murder” in the UAE. All the crimes were allegedly committed between 2018 and 2019.

It was, however, subsequently decided by both countries to initiate proceedings in two of the cases locally, a source in the security establishment said.

A letter of communication by the Ministry of External Affairs, a copy of which is with ThePrint, stated that there is a bilateral extradition treaty between the two countries (India and UAE), according to which the nationals of the contract state (India in this case), shall not be extradited to the other contracting state (UAE in this case), provided that the state to which the extradition request has been made submits the case to its competent authorities for prosecution, if the act committed is considered as an offence under the laws of both contracting states.

“According to this treaty, if the allegations made by the UAE or Saudi, where the crime was committed, is also an offence in India, then there can be a local prosecution. Like in these cases, criminal breach of trust or embezzlement, are also offences in India and so a case under those sections of the IPC have been registered here,” Extradition is not required for it, as it anyway is a lengthy process,” the source added.

Following the decision by India and the UAE to start prosecutions in two of the cases locally, the Ministry of External Affairs wrote to the CBI in July 2020, asking them to file a case against two of the 14 people accused of fraud. The cases were registered on 31 December 2021.

One case of alleged criminal breach of trust by an Indian in Saudi Arabia was also registered on 31 December 2021 on the request of that country.

This means that the accused in the three cases will not be extradited to the UAE or Saudi Arabia, but instead be investigated and prosecuted in India by the CBI.

“The CBI will now investigate, arrest (the accused) in these cases and convey the details to the UAE and Saudi,” the source quoted above said.

The case files

In one of the cases reported from the UAE, the accused, then an assistant manager at a company in Bur Dubai, allegedly stole aluminium strips from the firm and sold it for AED 1,532,558 (approximately Rs 3 crore).

“The assistant manager, who is an Indian national, is said to have fled the UAE after this transaction. A case regarding this was registered in Bur Dubai. Now, the CBI has registered a case of criminal breach of trust in this matter,” a second source said.

In the second case reported from the UAE, it is alleged that an Indian national working for over two years as financial manager for a company engaged in constructing sustainable buildings embezzled over AED 1,428,600 (approx. Rs 2.8 crore) from the company’s account. The alleged fraud was revealed during a financial audit. A case of criminal breach of trust has now been registered against the accused person by the CBI.

In the case from Saudi Arabia, it has been alleged that a man who entrusted two people with 300,000 Saudi Riyal (approx. Rs 59 lakh), while he went to pray, was defrauded. According to the complaint, the Indian accused and their associates fled with the man’s money. The CBI has registered a case under sections of criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: ‘Continuity, independence’ — why govt has moved bill to increase tenure of CBI & ED chiefs


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