Sundar Nagarajan, a 65-year-old Indian-origin man accused of running the funds for Islamist terrorist organisation Hizbollah, has denied all the allegations levelled against him in a London court.
Nagarajan, a retired accountant, claimed in Westminster magistrates’ court that his family is Hindu and would never support Islamic terrorism.
In a press statement, the Met police said:
“The ongoing investigation and arrest by the NTFIU relates to suspected terrorist financing and money laundering, which is believed to be connected to wealthy art collector and diamond dealer, Nazem Ahmad.”
As per a report in the Times of India, Nagarajan’s barrister George Hepburne Scott told the court:
“Nagarajan comes from a Hindu background, he is not an Islamic terrorist, and finds Islamic terrorism unacceptable.”
Madurai-born Nagarajan has lived in the UK since 2016 and has pre-settled status to remain until June 2024. He had also recently applied for residency in Belgium where he owns a family house.
Nagarajan’s wife, a Belgian citizen, took her own life on 21 April as a direct result of his arrest on 18 April and following an extradition request from the US.
Scott said Nagarajan needed bail to make arrangements for his wife’s funeral, to grieve and take care of his younger son, who is unwell.
On 18 April, at 5.45 am, the Times of India reports, fifteen armed police officers arrested Nagarajan from his Hayes home. The police “tied him up”, seized all his jewellery and devices, and then held him in a London jail.
When Nagarajan’s home was raided, police found $28,000 in cash and bank statements showing recent movements of large sums of money. However, Scott questioned the “proportionality” of such extreme actions by police towards “a man of good character”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Rees, of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement:
“Terrorist groups rely on financial support and funding for their activities and the NTFIU works closely with agencies in the UK and around the world to identify and take action against those people who provide and facilitate this funding. With our international partners, we will never give up on our mission to disrupt terrorist activity, both in the UK and abroad, in order to keep the public safe.”
Nagarajan’s eldest son lives in the US agreed to put forward £60,000 as bail security. He told the court that the family was ready to “put everything on the line” to secure his release.
District Judge Briony Clarke refused bail on the grounds of “airline reservations to Beirut”, ties and assets Nagarajan had in Belgium and India, and “an application for a visa in South Africa”.
“I have substantial grounds to believe if granted bail you would fail to surrender.”
The US is seeking to extradite Nagarajan to face seven charges that include smuggling goods from the US, unlawfully importing goods into the US, wire fraud, violating US terrorism sanctions, and conspiracy to defraud the US.