He has been on the run since June 2009 after he was charged with swindling the country of billions in a crude and refined oil importation scam. This fugitive named Yagnesh Mohanlal Devani, a 58-year-old Indian-origin Kenyan oil tycoon and billionaire, first arrested in May 2011 for his involvement in the 2009 Triton Oil scandal that threatened oil supplies to the African nation, has something in common with Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. India hasn’t been successful in bringing them back despite winning extradition cases in UK courts.
According to a finance portal, Nairobi is keen to have him back, but Devani has managed a second asylum application, which could be replicated by Mallya and Modi.
For the unversed, judicial processes can be removed if a second asylum application goes through.
The background is essential to understand the case against Devani and the acumen of his legal team that has kept him afloat.
Twenty-three years ago, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) awarded Devani’s Triton Petroleum Limited a tender to supply oil. Triton, the portal highlighted, reportedly didn’t have the necessary infrastructure for the project. In 2008, the company allegedly sold 126 million litres of oil to third parties without approvals. The illegal transactions cost severe losses to the state and banks.
India was his first hideout in 2008 before he moved to the United Kingdom. He was arrested in May 2011 after Kenya requested for his extradition. In September 2014, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court ordered his deportation.
The portal adds that Devani filed an appeal that his human rights would be breached in a Kenyan prison, but it was dismissed.
He appealed again for asylum, once to the UK home office in 2016 and then to the UK Supreme Court in December 2020, but remained unsuccessful.
He may have resigned himself to fate in January 2021 as he was seated in a Kenyan Airways plane accompanied by Scotland Yard officers.
But there was a twist to the story.
The portal reports that with only a few minutes left for the plane to take off, his legal team produced an order from a UK judge putting a stay on his extradition. Devani had made a second asylum application and he couldn’t be removed from the UK till his appeal reached a conclusion.
As mentioned above, this is a smart template that Mallya and Modi have been following. The asylum applications take years to reach a conclusion. If they make a second asylum request, they could buy more time. Remember, Devani was arrested in 2011. Twelve years thence, he remains in London, following bail conditions and shelling out huge amounts for legal bills.
Modi, lodged in Wandsworth Prison, doesn’t have to worry about unpaid legal bills while he is facing criminal proceedings. Mallya travels between his two homes in England even as the Worldwide Freezing Order (WFO) against him remains in place.