Chopper case: ED moves Delhi court seeking bail cancellation of Rajiv Saxena

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Monday moved a Delhi court seeking bail cancellation of Rajeev Saxena, a middleman-turned-approver in a money laundering case related to the AgustaWestland chopper scam, for allegedly not cooperating in the probe.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar issued notice to Saxena and put up the matter for hearing on July 18.

The court had earlier allowed Saxena to turn approver and his plea for grant of pardon on the condition that he will fully disclose all information in the case.

Saxena, director at two Dubai-based firms — UHY Saxena and Matrix Holdings, is one of the accused named in the charge sheet filed by the ED in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland scam.

The Rajasthan High Court extends stay on Robert Vadra’s arrest and asks him to cooperate with ED

The Rajasthan High Court on Monday extended the stay on arrest of Robert Vadra and directed him to cooperate in the inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into a complaint of alleged money laundering against a firm linked to him.

Justice P S Bhati posted the hearing for March 15 after Vadra’s lawyer gave an assurance in the court that he will cooperate with the inquiry.

Vadra has appeared before the ED on February 12 in pursuance of the direction of the court and has been cooperating in the inquiry , said his counsel Kuldeep Mathur in the court.

Vadra is the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

The court then deferred the hearing in the matter and said the stay on arrest of Vadra without court’s permission will continue.

During the last hearing on January 21, the court had removed the clause of No Coercive Action against Vadra during inquiry but had refused to vacate the stay on his arrest.

The ED had moved the court seeking vacation of the stay order on the grounds that there was neither an FIR lodged in the matter nor any accused named.

The agency had issued summonses to Robert Vadra and his mother and firm’s partner partner Maureen Vadra for the third time in November last year but none of them had appeared before the ED and instead moved the high court seeking No Coercive Action order and stay on arrest.

Robert Vadra appears before ED in PMLA case probe

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra Wednesday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering probe case relating to alleged possession of illegal foreign assets.

Vadra’s wife Priyanka Gandhi accompanied him, in a white Toyota Land Cruiser along with SPG personnel in tow, and dropped him outside the agency’s office in Jamnagar House in central Delhi. She soon left in her convoy of vehicles.

Vadra entered the ED office at around 3:47 pm even as a team of his lawyers had arrived minutes before him.

This is the first time Vadra, also the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, is appearing before any probe agency in connection with alleged criminal charges of dubious financial dealings.

Vadra has denied these allegations in the past and termed them a political witch hunt against him.

Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi is married to Vadra and was recently appointed as party general secretary incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Vadra was directed by a Delhi court to cooperate with the investigation being carried out by the central probe agency after he knocked on its door seeking anticipatory bail in this case.

The court had asked him to appear before the ED on Wednesday after returning from London.

Official sources said Vadra will be put through questions on transactions, purchase and possession of certain immovable assets in London and his statement will be recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The case relates to allegations of money laundering in the purchase of a London-based property located at 12, Bryanston Square worth 1.9 million pounds, which is allegedly owned by Vadra.

The agency had told the court that it has received information about various new properties in London which belongs to Vadra.

The ED had carried out raids in this case in December last year and grilled his aide Manoj Arora, an employee of a firm linked to Vadra, Skylight Hospitality LLP.

Vadra has also been directed by the Rajasthan High Court to appear before the ED on February 12 in connection with another money laundering case being probed by the agency.

ED seeks extension of custody of corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar by 7 days

The Enforcement Directorate Thursday sought from a Delhi court extension of custody for corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar by seven days in a money laundering case.

The court had earlier allowed ED to quiz in custody for seven days Talwar, after the probe agency alleged that he acted as middleman in negotiations to favour foreign private airlines causing the loss to national carrier Air India.

ED had told the court that by interrogating Talwar it has to find out the names of officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, National Aviation Company of India Ltd and Air India, who favoured foreign airlines, including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air Arabia, by making national carrier, gave up profit making routes and profit making timings.

Talwar, who is in ED custody, was deported from Dubai on January 30 and was arrested by the agency after landing here.

ED seeks open-ended NBW against close aide of Robert Vadra in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved a Delhi court Saturday seeking issuance of open-ended non-bailable warrant (NBW) against Manoj Arora, allegedly a close aide of Robert Vadra, in a money laundering case.

The agency told the court that Arora failed to appear for questioning despite repeated summonses.

The ED further claimed that Arora is a key person in the case. He is aware of overseas undeclared assets of Vadra and was instrumental in arranging funds for such properties, the agency said.

Vadra is the brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

ED seeks custodial interrogation of Chidambaram in Aircel-Maxis money laundering case

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday opposed in a Delhi court the anticipatory bail plea of former Union minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case and sought his custodial interrogation.

ED, which filed its response to the anticipatory bail plea of Chidambaram, said that he has remained evasive and was not cooperating in the probe.

The hearing on Chidambaram’s plea will take place before Special Judge O P Saini on Thursday.

The court had on October 8 extended till November 1 the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram and his son Karti in the Aircel-Maxis case filed by the CBI and the ED.

Chidambaram ahd filed the plea for protection from arrest in the ED case on May 30 this year after which he got relief from the court on various occasions.

The agency on October 25 had filed charge sheet against Chidambaram in the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, accusing him of conspiring with foreign investors to clear their venture.

Court seeks ED’s response on Virbhadra Singh’s plea

New Delhi: A special court has granted two weeks to the Enforcement Directorate to respond to a plea of former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh seeking certain documents in a money laundering case against him.

Special Judge Arun Bhardwaj directed the probe agency to file by October 5 its reply to the applications moved by Singh and other accused, including his wife Pratibha Singh and LIC agent Anand Chauhan.

Special public prosecutors N K Matta and Nitesh Rana, appearing for the ED, had sought six weeks from the court for filing the response.

However, the court said “the period of six weeks would be too long a date” and allowed two weeks.

During the proceedings, the copies of the applications moved by the accused persons were received by advocate Samvedna Verma on behalf of the ED.

In their applications, moved through senior advocate Rebecca John and advocate Tarannum Cheema, the accused persons have told the court that they have not received several documents filed with the charge sheet while many papers supplied to them were not readable.

Besides 83-year-old Singh and his 62-year-old wife, the others named as accused in the ED charge sheet, filed through advocate A R Aditya, include politician’s son Vikramaditya, Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent Anand Chauhan and two other co-accused–Prem Raj and Lawan Kumar Roach.

The case also involves Managing Director of Tarani Infrastructure, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar and one Ram Prakash Bhatia as accused.

In a separate case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in relation to the matter, the former Himachal Pradesh chief minister, his wife and Chauhan were charge sheeted along with others.

The CBI had claimed that Virbhadra Singh had amassed assets worth around Rs 10 crore which were disproportionate to his total income during his tenure as a Union Minister under UPA government.

The ED filed a case on the basis of the CBI case.

The accused have denied all the allegations levelled against them.

Supreme Court refuses to pass any order on promotion of ED official

The Supreme Court today refused to pass an order regarding the promotion of an Enforcement Directorate officer probing the Aircel-Maxis deal case, who has claimed that frivolous complaints filed against him was deterring the department to promote him.
The official, Rajeshwar Singh, has alleged that due to such false allegations being levelled against him, including one by a “so-called journalist” who was recently arrested by CBI, the department has not given him the promotion due to him.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said it could pass any order regarding the promotion of the officer only after it went into the merits of the case.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Singh, said the officer was currently investigating the Aircel-Maxis case and has been in a target of frivolous complaints.

“False allegations are being levelled against him by over 20 frivolous complaints made to the department. Last complaint was made by a so-called reporter who made completely baseless allegations. These complaints and allegations have hindered my promotion which was due to me for past seven months,” Rohatgi said.

The bench asked Rohatgi why the probe in the Aircel-Maxis case has not been completed in six years.

He said that 2G spectrum case probed by the officer has been completed and the trial court has given the verdict, while Aircel-Maxis case is being monitored by the top court.

“That so called reporter, who had made the frivolous complaints, was recently arrested by CBI on charges of extortion, blackmail and others. He (journalist Upendra Rai) has also filed a petition before the apex court for protection and was mentioned on the last date of hearing, but it appears that the plea has now been withdrawn,” Rohatgi said.

He said the court should grant some protection to the officer that no such complaints are entertained by the department and the promotion due to him be given. “At least the court should for now make observation in the order that the promotion due to him, should be given,” Rohatgi said.

The bench said, “For that we have to go into merits of the case before passing any orders. We have to hear other parties also to pass orders in the matter”.

BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramaniam Swamy, appearing in person, said earlier too, the court had protected the officer who has done “excellent work” in the case.

He also supported Rohatgi’s argument and said his promotion should not be held up for such false complaints.

The bench said there were several part-heard matters listed today and would take up the case next week.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, said he has filed a chronology of the dates and orders passed by the courts regarding the case.

The apex court had last week refused to interfere with the arrest of journalist Upendra Rai by the CBI for his alleged involvement in dubious financial transactions.

Rai had claimed he was framed in the case as he has been writing against ED official, Rajeshwar Singh, who was also part of the team which probed the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

On November 1 last year, the supreme court had restrained the government from taking any action against Singh, following some anonymous complaints against him. The court’s direction had come after Singh had alleged there was a “conspiracy” behind filing of “frivolous anonymous complaints” against him.

ED to High Court: Seized Choksi firm’s jewellery for involvement in laundering

Jewellery stock of Gitanjali Gems were seized as it was being in direct control of diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who has refused to join investigation, and involved in money laundering, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today told the Delhi High Court.

ED contended that the proceed of crime generated through criminal activities arising out of the scheduled offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) were “layered and integrated in the veil of huge bullion/ jewellery business of Mehul Choksi in order to project the same as untainted property, which includes the business of Gitanjali Gems”.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta were hearing a plea by Choksi’s firm challenging the alleged illegal seizure of documents and articles by the probe agency in a money laundering case in connection with the over Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

In its affidavit, ED said, “The jewellery stock of the petitioner (Gitanjali Gems) has been seized with the reason to believe, recorded in writing on the basis of information/ documents in possession, that the petitioner company, being under the direct control of prime accused Mehul Choksi is very much involved in the process of money laundering.”

Billionaire Nirav Modi, his uncle Choksi and others are being investigated by multiple probe agencies after the scam came to light in January following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The ED has registered the money laundering case against Modi, his firms and others on the basis of a CBI FIR.

Delhi court grants bail to Karti’s CA S Bhaskararaman in INX Media case

A Delhi court today granted bail to Karti Chidambaram’s chartered accountant S Bhaskararaman, arrested in the INX Media money laundering case.

Special judge Sunil Rana granted bail to Bhaskararaman, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on February 16 from a five-star hotel in the heart of the national capital.

The court granted the relief to the CA and asked him to furnish a bail bond of Rs two lakh and a surety of like amount. It asked Bhaskararaman to cooperate in the investigation as and when required by the ED and asked him not to leave the country without its permission.

Bhaskararaman had sought bail on the ground that he was not required for custodial interrogation and no purpose would be served by keeping him in custody. The CA was sent to jail on February 26 after his custodial interrogation by the ED.

Karti’s name had cropped up in the case relating to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s (FIPB) approval granted in 2007 for receipt of funds by INX Media when his father and Congress leader P Chidambaram was the finance minister during the previous UPA regime.

The ED’s special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana had earlier told the court that during the course of investigation, it was revealed that Bhaskararaman had been assisting Karti to manage his “ill-gotten wealth” in India and abroad.

He had alleged that INX Media had deliberately and in violation of the conditions of approval made a downstream investment of 26 per cent in the capital of INX News Pvt Ltd without the specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by some foreign investors, and generated Rs 305 crore foreign direct investment in INX Media Pvt Ltd against the approved foreign inflow of Rs 4.62 crore.

To wriggle out of the situation without any punitive action, INX Media entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti, the ED had alleged.

The FIPB unit of the Finance Ministry had not only granted illegal approval but also misinformed the investigation wing of the Income Tax Department, it had alleged.