The Sandesara fugitives were clients of Henley & Partners before mysteriously obtaining Albanian citizenship – Exit
Part 2 of a 2-part survey.
The Sandesara brothers who received Albanian citizenship under mysterious circumstances in 2018 were the clients of Henley and Partners, the same company that hosted an event in London where Prime Minister Edi Rama announced he would sell Albanian citizenship in exchange for an investment in the country.
The brothers were declared wanted by Indian authorities in 2017 on suspicion of being responsible for defrauding nearly $ 1 billion banks. Interpol Red Notices have been issued in their names and extradition orders have reportedly been filed by the Indian government in Nigeria and Albania.
In November 2016, they hired Henley and Partners, an international cash passport dealer, to check their background. The two brothers then attempted to apply for various passports, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Cyprus.
Documents show that this relationship continued at least until September 2017.
They failed in their attempts to obtain citizenship, possibly due to the bad press surrounding the fraud and the extradition orders issued against them.
Then, in February and March 2017, the executives of Henley and Partners visited Albania twice. First, Steffen Juerg, CEO of the group, visited on February 3, then Stefan Krauss COO on February 27. It is not known what the purpose of their visit was.
Then, at the end of 2018, the Sandesara obtained Albanian nationality while being officially On the run. This happened without any due process or respect for the rules. Moreover, this should not have been possible given the arrest warrants against them.
The brothers have pledged to invest at least $ 33 million in real estate development, including apartments near the man-made lake and other properties in Dhermi.
In 2019, Rama appeared at a citizenship event hosted by Henley & Partners in London. In the video, seen by Exit, he made jokes about communism and how the EU would be angry with its decision to sell citizenship.
He was right. The EU, EC and various European politicians have condemned the decision and said it could have an impact on Albanian membership and visa rights in Europe. The plan has been quietly put aside.
Then, in December 2020, an executive from one of the embittered companies in Sandesaras, Deepak Barot, incorporated a company in Albania. Halcyon Oil and Gas is currently active.
A former Sandesara brothers accountant explained how they were doing channel illicit funds through business networks around the world. These included a number of companies on behalf of close associates, which were in fact controlled by the Sandesara.
The Sandesara and Barots deny any wrongdoing and claim to be victims of attacks for political reasons, but also because of their religion, since they are Muslims.
Henley and Partners said they hold high standards when conducting due diligence and over the past few years have further upped them to mitigate risk.
The Albanian government did not respond to questions about how the Sandesaras acquired citizenship or whether Henley and Partners brought them to Albania.
Investigation in the brothers is currently underway in Albania in connection with money laundering. But fears that they will enjoy political protection at high levels and the fact that they have moved freely inside and outside Albania while being fugitives raise questions about the effectiveness of this investigation.