Alleged mastermind seeks money to fight extradition
A suspected mastermind of a California drugs and money-laundering syndicate, wanted by the US, has asked a South African court to unfreeze some of his money so he can fight extradition.
American-Israeli Meir Elran, 44, took the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the curator of his estate, Theodore van den Heever, to the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Friday after his bank accounts were frozen and the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized his property.
He is asking the court to force them to release more than R700000 so he can pay mounting legal bills. Four years ago, the unit seized Elran's R12-million game farm in Limpopo, a R2.5-million home in Umhlanga, his Mercedes-Benz and R3-million in bank accounts.
The state alleges that Elran, who lives in Durban and was arrested in 2004 in Johannesburg, bought his assets with money acquired illegally, and that he had failed to reveal how he got the money.
The US government has applied for Elran's extradition so that he can be tried on charges of importing the drug ecstasy, distributing drugs and money laundering.
But Elran claims they have the wrong man.
US and European officials say they seized 340000 ecstasy tablets he allegedly imported, and claim he laundered $950000 (R7-million) through businesses in Los Angeles and California.
Last year, Johannesburg High Court Judge Rose Rosenberg ordered Van den Heever to release nearly R800000 into Elran's lawyers' bank account. But the Asset Forfeiture Unit is appealing against that ruling.
The director of prosecutions said in court papers that Elran did not disclose the full extent of his assets and cash transfers between accounts in Israel.
Elran said the NPA and Van den Heever were stalling to stop him fighting his extradition to the US.
The case was postponed to November 30.
By KHETHIWE CHELEMU
Aug 1, 2010 11:51 PM
The Times Live