Virbhadra Singh PMLA case: Court sends businessman to judicial custody.

A special court today sent a businessman, arrested in connection with an around Rs seven crore money laundering case against former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and others, to two-week judicial custody.

Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann sent Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, the director and promoter of Tarini Group of Companies, to custody till March 13 after he was produced before the court through ED’s special public prosecutor N M Matta.

The accused, arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was produced before the court through agency’s special public prosecutor N K Matta on expiry of his three-day ED custody.

The accused was arrested on February 15. The court had on February 24 sent him to ED custody after the prosecutor said he was required for custodial interrogation.

While producing him from the custody today, the agency had sought extension of his ED custody for two more days.

The agency had alleged that Chandrasekhar “had provided an amount of Rs 5.9 crore to Singh and his family members through his three personal bank accounts”.

It said that when the source of funds was enquired into, it came to light that the amount was received through a web of firms indulging in accommodation entry operation.

The court had on February 12 summoned Singh, his wife and three others as accused in the case, after taking cognisance of the ED charge sheet against them and others, saying prima facie there enough evidence against the accused and had directed them to appear before on March 22.

The ED had chargesheeted 83-year-old Singh, accusing him of projecting around Rs 7 crore “proceeds of crime” as agricultural income in connivance with his wife and others and invested them in purchasing LIC policies.

Besides Singh and his 62-year-old wife Pratibha Singh, the court summoned Universal Apple Associate owner Chunni Lal Chauhan and two other co-accused, Prem Raj and Lawan Kumar Roach. The final report had also named as accused Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent Anand Chauhan, against whom a charge sheet was earlier filed by the agency.

All the six have been charge sheeted under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Chauhan, arrested on July 9, 2016 by the ED under several provisions of the PMLA, was granted bail on January 2 in the case.

In the charge sheet against Virbhadra Singh, the ED said, “The proceeds of crime acquired by him were projected as agricultural income with the help of Anand Chauhan, LIC agent and Chunni Lal Chauhan and were invested in insurance policies purchased in the name of Singh and his family members and a major part of it, after criss-crossing through various bank accounts found way into acquisition of immovable property.”

The “proceeds of crime generated through criminal activities” were managed by Anand Chauhan, who actively assisted him in laundering it by projecting it as untainted, the ED’s final report had alleged.

In a separate case filed by the CBI in connection with the matter, Singh, his wife and Anand Chauhan were also chargesheeted along with others. The couple, who have not been arrested so far, and the other accused are facing trial in the CBI case.

The other accused in the CBI case are Chandrasekhar, Chunni Lal Chauhan, stamp paper vendor Joginder Singh Ghalta and co-accused Lawan Kumar Roach, Prem Raj and Ram Prakash Bhatia.

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 Union minister.

The matter was transferred by the Supreme Court to the Delhi High Court which, on April 6, 2016, had asked the CBI not to arrest Singh and directed him to join the probe.

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