Mauritian Anti-Graft Body Queries Foreign Minister Over Loan

Mauritian Foreign Minister Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo submitted himself for questioning by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over a loan granted by SBM Holdings Ltd., the state-owned lender.

The anti-graft body opened an investigation into the 1.1 million-euro ($1.3 million) loan, Lutchmeenaraidoo told reporters Wednesday in Reduit near the capital, Port Louis. Mauritius’s Supreme Court earlier this week rejected his request for an injunction to stop the ICAC arresting him.
“Legally, I’m sure to be 100 percent right, but I do not control the politics,” he said. Lutchmeenaraidoo was the Indian Ocean island nation’s finance minister until he was moved to the Foreign Ministry last month.

Lutchmeenaraidoo said the bank shared information of the loan with Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, who was satisfied the facility was in order. Jugnauth denied any knowledge of the loan in an e-mailed statement from his office.

“The prime minister brings a categorical denial to certain statements contained in the affidavit of the Minister Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo sworn in Supreme Court Monday, April 4, 2016 and forcefully argues that he never asked to be informed of the loan granted to the minister by the State Bank, much less the conditions of this loan,” according to the statement.

SBM Chief Executive Officer Jayraj Sonoo wasn’t immediately available when Bloomberg called his office seeking comment.
Former Environment Minister Raj Dayal was also questioned Wednesday by the ICAC. Dayal resigned March 23 after allegations he demanded 1 million rupees ($28,000) to grant a license. He denies any wrongdoing.

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