A prominent Indian-born multi-millionaire and his son, with extensive interests in business and politics in the UK, were arrested in London by the police as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery in Rolls Royce.
Sudhir Choudhrie and his son Bhanu Choudhrie were arrested in dawn raids last week by officers from the Special Fraud Office (SFO), the City of London Police and the National Crime Agency on several places in central London. They were interrogated by the police, and later released on bail, with no conditions.
They were alleged to have acted as intermediaries for Rolls Royce in deals with China and Indonesia.
The Choudhries strongly denied any wrongdoing, and have said that they are fully cooperating with the police.
The Choudhries are prominent Liberal Democratic party donors, having contributed close to £1 million to the party coffers. Anita Choudhrie, Sudhir Choudhrie’s wife, runs the group’s charity Path to Success. Lib Dem party leader Nick Clegg’s wife, Miriam Gonzales Durantez, is a leading supporter of the charity. She was chosen “chief patron” in its campaign to raise money to donate 83 wheelchairs to 60 hospitals run by the National Health Service.
Mr. Choudhrie Sr, who moved to London in 2002 from India, was on the internal candidates list of the Lib Dem party for a peerage last year. However, his name was dropped when inspectors from the Care Quality Commission found that one of the C&C hospitals run by him failed to meet all care standards.
The C&C Alpha group run by the family had a turnover of £89 million last year. It has 1,300 staff on its rolls, and operates care homes and hospitals in the UK. The family is also involved in arms and defence transactions. In India, Mr. Choudhrie’s home was raided some years ago by the CBI, which was investigating a defence deal with the Israeli company Soltam Systems, a seller of sophisticated defence equipment to India. No charges were brought against Mr. Choudhrie.
Mr. Choudhrie was made Honorary Consul to India for Latvia and enjoys diplomatic immunity. He was given a lifetime achievement award at the Asian Business Awards (given by the Asia Media and Marketing Group, the publishers of Eastern Eye newspaper) by Home Secretary Theresa May in 2013.