London, Jan. 16: The Indian government will have to make a fresh request to the British authorities if it wants the UK accounts of Ottavio Quattrocchi frozen again.
“We would treat it as a new request,” a spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.
So far as resurrecting the restraining order was concerned, “the court would want to know why, since the order had just been discharged. There would be a few more hurdles, few more hoops this time. It would be more difficult,” she added.
Even if the British authorities dealt swiftly with a new Indian request, processing it would take “a few days”.
The spokeswoman confirmed the report in The Telegraph over the weekend that Quattrocchi’s accounts have already been unfrozen. “We, at the CPS, told Mr Quattrocchi’s bank that the restraining order has been discharged. We also told Mr Quattrocchi’s lawyers but they already knew about it as they had been in court. We told the Indian authorities as well. This was all done on January 11.”
As seen from London, although British lawyers here are too polite to say so, Indian government officials and law enforcement officers are taking a somewhat confusing and contradictory stand.
An additional solicitor-general from India, B. Dutta, held a meeting last December with CPS lawyers. The CPS then corresponded with the high court which “discharged the restraining order”.
Now, the CPS is being told via an avalanche of Indian media calls, triggered by The Telegraph’s report on Sunday, that the Indian government might be having second thoughts on the unfreezing.
What the CPS cannot tell is whether Quattrocchi has cleaned out his accounts. It is believed he had two accounts in London with a Swiss bank, BSI AG, worth Euro 3 million and $1 million.
There is, however, no reason to think that Quattrocchi hasn’t taken out his money. If he is unwise enough ' from his viewpoint ' not to have done so, the Indian government will have to submit a fresh request for a restraining order.
“There is a procedure for this,” explained the CPS spokeswoman. “The request will go to a UK central authority, which will validate the request before it is passed to the CPS.”
A primary condition the Indian government has to meet is there must be criminal proceedings in place in India against Quattrocchi. There is also an “and/or” clause, dealing with whether there is an external confiscation order against Quattrocchi.
Alternatively, the high court in London has to be convinced that there are reasonable grounds for believing such an order will be made.