Indian man arrested in UK on US extradition warrant refused bail

London: An Indian national with addresses in the UK and Belgium who was arrested in London by Scotland Yard on a US extradition warrant as part of a UK-US coordinated action targeting terrorism financing has been denied bail by a court here.

Madurai-born Sundar Nagarajan, 65, appeared via video link at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and his lawyer said he denied the charges of fraud and money laundering against him.

District Judge Briony Clarke was also told that Nagarajan was of a Hindu background and did not support Islamist terrorism. The judge refused the bail and remanded Nagarajan in custody to appear via video link at the same court on May 23.

Nagarajan, also known as Nagarajan Sundar Poongulam Kasiviswanathan Naga and Sundar Poongulam K Nagarajan Nagarajan, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s National Extradition Unit from an address at Hayes in west London on April 18.

The court heard that armed police officers stormed his home to arrest him and seize his belongings.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), on behalf of the US authorities, told the court that Nagarajan is the accountant linked to the finances of the designated Hizballah terrorist organisation and is wanted by the US authorities for fraud and money laundering offences.

His arrest followed action by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command to arrest a 50-year-old man in Wales on suspicion of funding terrorism.

“The ongoing investigation and arrest by the NTFIU [National Terrorist Financing Investigation Unit] relates to suspected terrorist financing and money laundering, which is believed to be connected to wealthy art collector and diamond dealer, Nazem Ahmad,” the Met Police said.

Ahmad is suspected of being a funding source for Hizballah, a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK and the US.

Sanctions against Ahmad were also announced last week by the UK government alongside the US government sanctions against Ahmad and a number of his suspected associates, including Nagarajan.

The action in the case coincided with the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York unsealing a nine-count indictment.

It is alleged that Ahmad was involved in real estate development, the international trade of diamonds, and the international acquisition and sale of artwork, and operated these enterprises through a complex web of business entities.

Ahmad, a Lebanese resident and dual Belgian-Lebanese citizen, was sanctioned by the US for being a financier for Hizballah.

Nagarajan is named among his associates who used numerous corporate entities and individuals to disguise Ahmad’s control and beneficial interest in the companies and in financial transactions.

Also, he is named for facilitating the acquisition of multiple pieces of valuable artwork and diamond-grading services for millions of dollars worth of diamonds from US persons, according to the US authorities.