October 29, 2009 / 5:30 PM / in 8 years

Canada says Thai banker Saxena can be extradited

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada’s highest court refused on Thursday to hear an appeal of an extradition order for fugitive Thai banker Rakesh Saxena, whose fraud case battered Thailand’s economy in the 1990s.

The Supreme Court, without comment, said it would not hear Sexena’s bid to overturn lower court rulings that he could be forced to return to Thailand from Canada, where he has been waging a legal battle to stay since 1996.

Saxena, 57, was charged by Thai police in 1996 with helping to embezzle about C$88 million ($82 million) from the former Bangkok Bank of Commerce, where he served as a senior advisor. Canada then arrested him at the Whistler ski resort near Vancouver.

The Thai government was forced to take over the Bangkok bank after news of the fraud allegations caused a public run on deposits. Fears about the banking sector helped trigger a financial crisis that spread through Southeast Asia.

Saxena denies the allegations of wrongdoing, which he has said were politically motivated.

Saxena’s extradition case is believed to be the longest in Canadian history. He has spent most of the time at home under an unusual agreement that allowed him to continue running his businesses while paying for his house arrest.

Saxena, who suffered a stroke earlier this year, is currently in jail near Vancouver. “If I gotta go, I gotta go,” the Vancouver Province newspaper quoted him as saying on Wednesday.

Reporting by Allan Dowd, editing by Peter Galloway

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