ED summons Karnataka Congress leader Shivakumar

In more trouble for the Congress, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned senior party leader from Karnataka D.K. Shivakumar for questioning on Friday in a money laundering case.

The Congress leader responded to the summons as “malafide” and said he will fully cooperate in investigation.

The ED has summoned the senior Karnataka MLA late on Thursday night to appear before it on Friday morning, but he informed the ED officials that he would be a bit late and appear before it by noon.

The financial probe agency summoned Shivakumar hours after the Karnataka High Court declined to stay its earlier summons, delivered in December 2018.

Responding to the ED summons, Shivakumar in a series of tweets said: “Have received summons from ED late yesterday night at 9.40 p.m. asking me to appear at 1 p.m. in Delhi today.”

“Although the sudden scheduling by the ED is malafide, I believe in the rule of law and will definitely participate and fully co-operate with them and abide by the law of our country,” he said.

Shivakumar further tweeted: “The IT raid on me was politically motivated for hosting Gujarat Congress MLAs. As a loyal soldier of Congress and a responsible politician, I did what the party asked me to do, for which I am being targeted.”

“I have full faith in legal systems and will face this legally as well as politically,” he added.

Shivakumar has been on the Income tax and ED radar since demonetisation in 2016.

The alleged money laundering came to light after the tax department carried out searches on his premises in Bengaluru, Kanakapura and New Delhi on August 2, 2017, which led to the seizure of unaccounted cash worth Rs 8.59 crore.



Crackdown on MNS ahead of Thackeray’s ED appearance

Hours before Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray appears before the Enforcement Directorate, Mumbai Police launched a crackdown on key party functionaries to prevent them from creating any ruckus, here on Thursday morning.

MNS spokesperson Sandip Deshpande and some others were picked up from Dadar and later whisked off to the nearby Shivaji Park Police Station.

Strongly protesting his detention, Deshpande termed it as “high-handed action” by the police.

The MNS activists were already served notices warning them against creating any law and order issues before Thackeray”s appearance in the Enforcement Directorate office in South Mumbai.

Thackeray has issued at least two direct appeals to all his followers to remain calm despite any provocation, keep away from the ED office, and desist from any form of agitation or violence.

Thackeray is expected to reach the ED office around 11 a.m. to respond to the summons served on August 18.

His former business partners Unmesh Joshi — son of former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi — and Rajan Shirodkar, have already been grilled by the ED in a case pertaining to the IL&FS imbroglio.

Not taking any chances, the Mumbai Police have implemented tight security measures in the vicinity of the ED Offices in South Mumbai, with a huge force deployed, roadblocks, barricades, restricted entry of people, etc.

On Wednesday, agitated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons to the MNS chief, a young party activist committed suicide by setting himself on fire.



Saradha Chit Fund: ED questions ex-TMC MP Kunal Ghosh

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday questioned former Trinamool Congress MP Kunal Ghosh in its probe into the Saradha Chit Fund scam.

A senior ED official told IANS: “Ghosh is being questioned for his role in the Saradha Chit Fund case under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.”

The official said that the agency is questioning Ghosh about the financial transactions of the Saradha group.

On being asked when the agency has summoned Trinamool Congress sitting MP Satabdi Roy, East Bengal football club official Debabrata Sarkar, businessmen Sajjan Agarwal, Sandhir Agarwal and Saradha Group Chairman Sudipta Sen’s close aide Arindam Das, he said, “They have been asked to appear in August before ED.”

The Saradha scam came to light in April 2013 and is estimated at over Rs 10,000 crore. The ED has filed a case on the basis of the CBI’s FIR.



Enforcement Directorate attaches Rs 24.77 cr of properties of Choksi

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached immovable properties, valuables, vehicles and bank accounts with a total value of Rs 24.77 crore of fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi.

The action was taken under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in connection with the Punjab National Bank fraud case.

The ED has attached three commercial properties in Dubai, valuables, a Mercedes Benz E280 and Fixed Deposits controlled by Choksi, who is now said to be based in Antigua.



ED arrests businessman Muhammed Riyaz in money laundering case

The Enforcement Directorate on Friday said that it has arrested businessman Muhammed Riyaz in its probe into a money laundering case to the tune of Rs 3,500 crore involving 57 shell companies.

An ED official said that Muhammed Riyaz aka Mohammed Sammy, the proprietor of Astral Exim and Co, was arrested for trade based money-laundering.

The ED has registered a case based on a CBI FIR for fraudulent high-value forex outward remittances/transactions exceeding Rs 3,500 crore using 57 shell entities current opened at a Syndicate Bank branch in Chennai.

The official said that during investigation it was found that Riyaz operated an array of accounts in the assumed names at various banks like Syndicate Bank, Ratnakar Bank Ltd, Karur Vysya Bank, ICICI Bank, etc.

The official said the modus operandi used by the hawala operator was to open the current account in the name of fictitious business entity at first instance, based on fabricated identity documents obtained by the individual.

“As a subsequent move, amounts were poured into the accounts operated in complete anonymity from various other accounts maintained on pan-India basis through electronic transfers. As the third and the final move, fabricated documents were submitted before the banks, made them to send the foreign exchange outside the country under the guise of advance payments against imports,” the official said.

The official said that during investigation of one shell entity conducted by the agency, it was found that the accused, acting in complete anonymity, integrated a sum of Rs 14.5 crore collected from various persons on a pan-India basis within a short span of two months.

“The entire operation was synchronised in such a way that the funds received were immediately transferred to various business entities in Hong Kong through wire transfer to the extent of $2,184,785.00 equivalent Rs 14.5 crore, based on fabricated documents.

“The details of various foreign exchange transfers in respect of other banks are also under probe,” he said.

The official said that the agency has recovered multiple identity documents from the residential premises of the individual including PAN cards, Driving Licences etc. in assumed names.

Riyaz was arrested and produced before a Special Court in Chennai and was remanded to judicial custody till July 18. The ED last year arrested three persons involved in the case.



ED offers to provide air ambulance to bring Choksi back

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday rejected a plea by fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi that he should be questioned in Antigua because of his health condition and said it can arrange air ambulance with medical experts to bring him back to India for interrogation in connection with the PNB fraud case.

Choksi, who is an accused in the case, has taken refuge in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua.

He has approached the Bombay High Court and said that he is willing to join investigation if his questioning was held in Antigua or via through video conferencing in the light of his medical condition.

But the ED rejected his plea and said that he has to return to India for questioning.

“Taking a humanitarian approach, the ED is ready to provide an expert medical team along with an air ambulance to bring the petitioner (Choksi) from Antigua to India under the proper medical supervision,” the ED said in its counter-affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court.

Choksi has also said that he has left India for his medical treatment abroad and not to avoid prosecution in the case.

Countering his submission, the ED told the court that the best medical facilities are available in India and would be provided to Choksi if he returns to India.

The ED said that the agency’s intention has never been to play with the health or life of any person, may he be an accused.

Choksi absconded after the Rs 14,000-crore PNB fraud came to light in January last year, whereby the primary accused were diamantaires Nirav Modi and Choksi himself.



ED files case against Bengaluru firm for Ponzi scheme

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a money laundering case against city-based IMA Jewels for operating an alleged Ponzi scheme and swindling crores of rupees from thousands of investors, an official said on Friday.

“We have filed an enforcement case information report (ECIR) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on a complaint the city police registered against IMA and its Managing Director Mohammed Mansoor Khan,” an ED official told IANS here.

Though police filed the case on June 11 under sections 406 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a Special Investigation Team (SIT) is probing scam as directed by the state government.

“We will collect a copy of the documents the SIT has seized from the IMA office in the city centre and also go through the petitions about 26,000 investors from across the state filed since June 11 against IMA and Khan for allegedly duping them of their savings,” the official said.

According to preliminary investigation and perusal of records at the city airport, Khan flew out of Bengaluru on June 8 night to Dubai with heavy luggage, three days after Eid-ul-Fitr.

“Hundreds of investors had no clue that Khan had left the country, as the IMA head office and its main showroom in the city centre were closed last week for the Eid holidays and were to reopen on Monday (June 10),”a police official told IANS.

On the basis of complaints, investments and deposits made by thousands of investors in the Ponzi scheme, an estimated Rs 1,250 crore is stuck with IMA.

“The SIT has seized documents, gold ornaments, jewellery, diamonds and cash from half-a-dozen IMA showrooms across the city after raiding them,” added the official.



Christian Michel knew Mrs Gandhi since 1986; ED

British national Christian Michel, the middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, has known “Mrs Gandhi” since 1986, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in its fourth supplementary chargesheet.

Sources confirmed that besides “Mrs Gandhi”, the names of other Congress leaders were also mentioned in the chargesheet filed before a city court on Thursday, but not as accused in the case.

However, it was not clear who “Mrs Gandhi” was and in which context her name was mentioned.

The chargesheet has listed a series of “dispatches” between February 2008 and October 2009 by Michel, including one dated March 15, 2008, that mentioned “Mrs Gandhi” as the driving force behind the V.I.P. informing that she will not fly any more in the Mi-8.

The ED recovered these dispatches from a hard disk seized from the custody of J.B. Subramanian, who was Michel’s employee and was allegedly carrying out various illegal activities of the British national.

It is learnt that the correctness of the contents of the dispatches were admitted both by Michel and Subramanian.

“However, Michel has displayed selective loss of memory with reference to some of dispatches even when he acknowledged knowing Mrs Gandhi since 1986/87 and the explained identity of the party elite who had used to put pressure on Prime Minister,” the chargesheet said.

Michel has told the ED that his father was also a middleman in various defence deals and he took over the business when his father was denied a visa to India in 1986-87.

The ED said that Michel has incorporated several companies across India, Dubai and Singapore through which kickbacks were routed.

It added that Michel was confronted with these dispatches.

A dispatch dated October 1, 2009, read: “Meeting at the beginning of week with regards to the Italian lady’s son.

“The gentleman confirms that the son will be next Prime Minister as his power in party is growing day by day.”

These dispatches has revealed that Michel was privy to the confidential information which was used well in advance to influence the deal, the ED has alleged, adding that the influencing helped Agusta to bag the deal.

In early 2003, Agusta failed to achieve favourable order as it could not meet operational requirements but later they took the services of Guido Haschke and Michel to get the contract.

Michel was in touch with Air force officials, bureaucrats, ministers and top political leaders of the ruling party and had used their influence to procure the order.

It is learnt that kickbacks were paid separately under different agreements between companies of Michel, Haschke and AgustaWestland.

The agency also said in the chargesheet that kickbacks worth 70 million euros were paid to important political persons of the ruling party, media persons, defence officials and bureaucrats” directly or through middlemen who helped Michel and Haschke in influencing the decision of the government.

The chargesheet named Michel’s partner David Syms and his company Global Services Ltd and Global Trading Ltd as accused in the case.

Michel had used the companies as a conduit for receiving money.

The ED said that the bribe from AgustaWestland was routed through Global Services and Global Trading.

The agency said that further investigation was going on over the role of politicians and bureaucrats in the case.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018, from the United Arab Emirates.



ED files supplementary chargesheet against Michel

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday filed a supplementary chargesheet against British national Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore Augusta Westland VVIP chopper deal case.

The chargesheet was filed before Special Judge Arvind Kumar who has listed the matter for Saturday.

The agency has named three new entities in its supplementary chargesheet: David Syms, Global Services Ltd and Global Trading Ltd, which were Michel’s firms.

Michel had used the companies as a conduit for receiving money.

The ED said that the bribe from Augusta Westland was routed through Global Services and Global Trading.

The agency said that further investigation was going on over the role of politicians and bureaucrats involved in the case.

Michel was extradited to India on December 4, 2018 from the United Arab Emirates.


Business India

Deepak Talwar case; ED attaches Rs 120 cr Delhi hotel

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday said it has provisionally attached Holiday Inn hotel worth Rs 120 crore in connection with a money laundering case against aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar.

The hotel is located at Aerocity in Delhi and valued at around Rs 120.20 crore, it said.

Investigation against Talwar was initiated under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in August 2017 on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry, National Aviation Co of India Ltd, Air India and unknown private persons, the ED said in a statement.

“It has been revealed that Deepak Talwar illegally engaged in liasoning/lobbying with politicians, ministers, other public servants and officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation for airlines such as Emirates, Air Arabia and Qatar Airways for securing undue benefits for them.

“He illegally managed to secure favourable traffic rights for these airlines during 2008-09 at the cost of national carrier Air India,” the investigative agency said.

Investigations revealed that in lieu of securing favourable traffic rights, these airlines made payments to the tune of Rs 272 crore to Talwar in 2008-09, it added.

The ED alleged that Talwar created a web of entities owned by him and his family members in India and international offshore havens to launder the proceeds of crime.

“Part of these payments were made to a bank account in Bank of Singapore, belonging to a company – M/s Asiafield Ltd – registered in the British Virgin Islands and beneficially owned by Deepak Talwar.

“These proceeds of crime were layered through a series of international money transfers, to finally integrate in India in M/s Wave Hospitality Pvt Ltd, a company beneficially owned and controlled by Deepak Talwar and his family members in the name of his son Aditya Talwar,” it said.

“These proceeds of crime were then utilized in the construction of Holiday Inn in Aerocity, New Delhi,” it added.

Talwar fled the country in 2017 to avoid investigation. He was deported by immigration authority of Dubai on January 31 and arrested under PMLA. He is now in judicial custody.

The agency said that further investigation was in progress.



Enforcement Directorate attaches Shabir Shah’s Srinagar property

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached the immovable property of Shabir Ahmad Shah, the President of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), in Srinagar in a terror financing case, the agency said on Friday.
JKDFP, a separatist political party launched by Shah in May 1998, favours tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir’s representatives.
The ED attached Shah’s property located in Effandi Bagh, Rawalpora which was being held in the name of his wife and daughters. The attachment was made under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
It was shown that the property had been gifted to Shah’s wife and daughters by his sisters-in-law in 2005, which was purchased in their name by his father-in-law in 1999, said the ED.
However, the agency said, that in spite of repeated opportunities given to his father-in-law and sisters-in-law, they failed to justify the sources of funds to acquire the property.
“Investigation has also revealed that Shabir Ahmad Shah is the de-facto owner of the property purchased vide unexplained source of fund by his father-in-law.”
Shah has been involved in carrying out “illicit activities” along with his accomplice Mohd Aslam Wani, an activist of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), said the ED.
“Shah was using Aslam Wani as a carrier for collecting hawala money sent by his Pakistan-based sympathizers through hawala operators to Srinagar,” said the ED.
During the investigation initiated by ED on the basis of charge sheet filled by Delhi Police, Shah admitted that he was not having any source of income and failed to explain any legitimate source of money for his expenses.
Investigation also revealed that he was in touch with Hafiz Saeed, chief of banned outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa, which is based in Pakistan, said the ED.
“Shah had been receiving money for carrying out separatist activities in J&K and has acquired various properties through a maze of dubious transactions,” the ED said.
Wani and Shah were arrested by the ED in 2017 on charges of money laundering. Wani was granted bail by the Delhi High Court in January 2019. Shah is still in judicial custody.
Earlier, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had filed a charge sheet alleging that in 2005 Wani was caught with 5 kg of explosive, a pistol with 15 live cartridges and Rs 62,96,000 in cash.
Wani reportedly admitted that Rs 52.96 lakh of the money belonged to Shah and was to be delivered to him in Srinagar.
He further revealed that Shah was directing hawala operators from Pakistan to deliver money to him in Delhi.
Wani also informed police that in the past also he has been acting as a carrier for Shah and has delivered Rs 2.08 crore on various occasions.

ED arrests Zakir Naik’s financier Najmudin Sathak

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday arrested jeweller Abdul Kadir Najmudin Sathak here for assisting fugitive controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik by transferring funds of dubious origins from the UAE to him.

The agency said the funds were used to facilitate production of videos meant to spread communal hatred and radicalize a particular community.

Sathak was director of Global Broadcasting Corp FZE LLC, which owned the Peace TV channel which broadcast the “communal and inflammatory” speeches of televangelist Naik from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Middle East and Africa, an ED statement said.

“Investigation revealed that Global Broadcasting Corp was controlled by Naik through Sathak who was his trusted aide.”

The ED in December 2016 registered a criminal case against Naik and his Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) under money laundering laws after taking cognisance of a similar FIR lodged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against them in November 2016.

Naik, who has got permanent resident status in Malaysia, came on the security agencies’ radar after some terrorists, allegedly involved in the attack on a cafe in Dhaka in July 2016, claimed they were inspired by his speeches.

On November 17, 2016, India declared Naik’s Mumbai-based NGO IRF an unlawful association under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.



Enforcement Directorate to sell Nirav Modi’s 173 paintings and 11 cars

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will soon start the auction of 173 paintings and 11 vehicles of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi after it obtained permission from a special court in Mumbai on Wednesday.

The development comes after Nirav Modi was arrested in London’s Holborn on Tuesday afternoon in connection with Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case and was on Wednesday sent to Metropolitan Police custody till March 29 after being denied bail.

The ED will put the 173 paintings of the 48-year-old businessman on sale which are valued at Rs 57.72 crore and eleven vehicles that include a Rolls Royce, Porsche, Mercedes and Toyota Fortuner.

The auction is expected to be held on March 26.

The ED has till date attached properties worth Rs 4,765 crore of Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Group. Both left India days before the case came to light in January 2018.

The court has also issued a non-bailable warrant against his wife Ami Modi, a US national, for being the beneficiary of alleged purchase of two apartments at Central Park in New York using $30 million laundered money, which her husband had obtained fraudulently from thee PNB through Letters of Undertaking (LoU) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs). The ED recently filed a supplementary charge sheet against Ami.

The court also allowed the Income Tax Department to sell another 68 paintings seized by it as part of its separate probe against the absconding diamantaire.

Nirav Modi’s extradition proceedings are likely to start soon.

Nirav Modi and Choksi are under probe by both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on February 15, 2018 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.



Vadra’s custodial interrogation may be needed; ED

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday told a Delhi court that Robert Vadra, the brother-in-law of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, is not cooperating in the investigation and the agency may require his custodial interrogation in a money laundering case.

A Special Public Prosecutor told Special Judge Arvind Kumar that despite being given various opportunities, Vadra is not cooperating in the investigation and he is evasive in his responses.

The ED also filed a reply on Vadra’s anticipatory bail plea.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 25 and extended interim protection from arrest granted to Vadra till the next date fixed for the hearing.

The case relates to the ownership of overseas assets worth 1.9 million pounds by Vadra.

On December 7, 2018, the ED had raided several of Vadra’s properties in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru.



Court allows Enforcement Directorate (ED) to quiz Deepak Talwar in jail

A Delhi court on Friday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to question corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar in judicial custody in a case related to the purchase of 43 aircraft by Indian Airlines in 2005.

ED’s Special Public Prosecutors D.P. Singh and Nitesh Rana told Special Judge Santosh Snehi Mann that the interrogation of Talwar is necessary to ascertain the money trail.

ED has registered a case related to purchase of aircraft by Indian Airlines from Airbus Industrie, France, in 2005.

Meanwhile, the prosecutors have withdrawn the plea seeking to issue a production warrant against Talwar, who is in judicial custody in another money laundering case related to his suspected role in the irregular seat sharing on Air India’s profitable routes with some international airlines.

The ED is also probing various other cases related to money laundering against Talwar who was deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 30.



ED seeks approval to question terror funding accused

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday moved a Delhi court seeking permission to question Altaf Ahmad Shah and another person in judicial custody in connection with the terror funding case.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The other person is Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali.

The court will hear the plea on March 19.

In January 2018, the National Investigation Agency charge sheeted Ahmad Shah and Watali along with Pakistan-based terrorist leaders Hafiz Saeed, Syed Salahuddin, seven Kashmiri separatist leaders and others in a case of terror funding in the Kashmir Valley.

They were charge sheeted under stringent anti-terror laws alleging that they hatched a conspiracy with Saeed and Salahuddin to wage war against India for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir.

The separatists, who were arrested on July 24, 2017, are Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah.



Kashmiri trader got funds from 26/11 mastermind; ED

The Enforcement Directorate has identified some 24 properties across India, including in the national capital, that belong to Kashmiri businessman Zahoor Ahmed Watali and were bought with money received from alleged 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Watali in August 2017. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.

On Monday, the Enforcement Directorate attached Watali’s immovable property worth Rs 1.3 crore in Haryana’s Gurugram. The action was taken under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The financial probe agency is examining cases against Saeed, who is the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Syed Salahuddin, head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), and others.

“We have identified 24 properties of Watali, bought in several states including Delhi, Harayana and Uttar Pradesh,” an ED source told IANS.

He refused to share details of these properties.

The value of the said properties is over Rs 15 crore. The source claimed that Watali received the money for the properties for “his services”.

The agency had earlier claimed that documents recovered from Watali’s residence showed that he received money from Saeed, from the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), from the Pakistan High Commission at New Delhi and also from a source based in Dubai.

The source said Watali had a very good relation with Pakistan-based terrorists and terror groups apart from Saeed and Salahuddin.

Watali used to receive instruction from his handlers from across the border to pass the money to the separatist leaders in the Kashmir valley, the source added.

Earlier, on March 8, IANS reported that the ED has also identified six people and several NGOs, who bought properties from the money received from Pakistan-based terror groups.

The ED had filed the case of money laundering based on a NIA case registered in May 2017 for stoking unrest in Jamuu and Kashmir.

The anti-terror agency had on January 18 last year filed charge sheet against 12 people, including Saeed and Salahuddin, seven Kashmiri separatist leaders and others in terror funding.

The ED in 2018 had also questioned Dubai-based hawala operator, Naval Kishore Kapoor, who was arrested by NIA on July 16. Kapoor is currently lodged in Tihar Central Jail, as the ED continues probe into details of funding that emerged post-26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

According to the ED sources, questioning of Kapoor was required as the NIA probe had revealed a lease agreement signed in 2014 between him and Kashmiri businessman Watali.

The agency also has incriminating document against Watali, recovered from the cashier-cum-accountant of the businessman, Ghulam Mohammad Bhatt, during a 2017 raid.

According to ED officials, the Watali, who was arrested by the NIA in August 2017 was remitting the same to the Hurriyat leaders, separatists and stone-pelters of Jammu and Kashmir to stoke unrest.

The officials said that the documents collected from Watali’s residence and office showed that it had been maintained in regular course of his business and was signed by Watali himself.

The NIA in July 2017 had also arrested Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam, Ayaz Akbar Khandey, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal and Bashir Ahmad Bhat alias Peer Saifullah.

Altaf Ahmad Shah is the son-in-law of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who advocates Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. Shahid-ul-Islam is an aide of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and Khandey is the spokesperson for the Geelani-led Hurriyat.



PNB scam; Nirav Modi’s wife Ami named in ED chargesheet

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has named fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s wife Ami Modi in a supplementary chargesheet in connection with its ongoing probe into over Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case, said informed sources.

The agency filed the chargeseet in a special Mumbai court charging Ami, a US national, for being the beneficiary of alleged purchase of two apartments at Central Park in New York using $30 million laundered money, which her husband had obtained fraudulently from PNB through Letters of Undertaking (LoU) and Foreign Letters of Credit (FLCs).

The chargesheet was filed on February 28, he said.

It is alleged that the amount was routed through Ami’s HSBC Bank accounts traced by the agency, according to reports.

These apartments are part of Nirav Modi’s worth Rs 637 crore foreign properties the ED had seized in October last year.

According to agency officials, the apartments were purchased in the name of The Ithaca Trust. One of the properties in Central Park South, New York, was in the name of Central Park Real Estate LLC, a Firestar Group company. In 2018, it was transferred to the Trust.

The alleged beneficiary of The Ithaca Trust is Ami and her children and the settler of the said trust was Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Modi, a Belgian national.

The move is seen as a step to tighten noose around Nirav Modi, who has now surfaced in London where he is believed to be living for several months now.

The agency is also reportedly looking to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Ami. Interpol has already issued an RCN against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal, Purvi and his executive Subhash Parab.

Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018 days before the PNB scam broke. The businessman’s whereabouts have remained a mystery since he has been “seen” in New York, Hong Kong and other parts of the world. He, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Group, left the country before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started investigating the PNB scam.

The ED had on May 24 and 26 last year filed chargesheets against both. Non-bailable warrants have also been issued against them.



ED questions Chanda Kochhar for fourth straight day

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday questioned former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar for the fourth consecutive day in the ongoing probe into the alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning a Rs 1,875-crore loan by the bank to the Videocon Group.

Chanda Kochhar’s questioning began at ED’s office after she deposed before the investigators around noon.

The ED questioned Chanda Kochhar for the first time on March 1 at her south Mumbai residence along with her husband Deepak Kochhar. On Sunday she was questioned for the third straight day.

The agency on Sunday also quizzed Nishant Kanodia, chairman of Matix Group and son-in-law of Essar Group co-founder Ravi Ruia, regarding investments made by his Mauritius-based firm Firstland Holdings in NuPower Renewables Pvt Ltd, a company run by Deepak Kochhar.

Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot were on March 2 were quizzed till late night in the case.

The ED on March 1 also carried out raids under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at five offices and houses owned by the Kochhars and Dhoot.

The ED started the probe after registering a criminal case under the PMLA in February against the Kochhars, Dhoot and others, taking cognizance of a first information report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The FIR named the Kochhars, Dhoot and his companies — Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd. It also included names of Supreme Energy, a company founded by Dhoot, and NuPower Renewable, a firm controlled by Deepak Kochhar.

The authorities are trying to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved in the sanctioning of the Rs 1,875 crore loan by the ICICI Bank as part of a consortium.

The CBI has alleged the ownership of the two companies changed hands through a complex web of share transactions between Deepak Kochhar and Dhoot.

It is alleged Dhoot invested in NuPower through his firm Supreme Energy, a quid pro quo to loans cleared by the ICICI Bank after Chanda Kochhar took over as the Chief Executive Officer on May 1, 2009.



Enforcement Directorate (ED) questions Kochhars, Dhoot

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday questioned former ICICI bank CEO Chanda Kochhar, her husband Deepak Kochhar and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot in connection with an ongoing probe into alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning a Rs 1,875 crore loan by the bank to the corporate group, the agency said.

The questioning was on at the ED’s office.




Business India

ICICI-Videocon case; ED raids Kochhar, Dhoot homes

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday carried simultaneous raids at the residences of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and Videocon Group promoter Venugopal Dhoot in connection with an ongoing probe into alleged irregularities and corrupt practices in sanctioning of Rs 1,875 crore loan by the bank to the corporate group.

The agency searched Kochhar’s south Mumbai and Dhoot’s Aurangabad residence.

Earlier the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had searched Nupower Renewables and Dhoot’s office in Mumbai and Aurangabad.

This is the first time that the ED conducted a raid at the Kochhar residence.

The ED had registered a case of money laundering in February on the basis of a CBI FIR. In January, the CBI had raided four locations in Mumbai related to the case.

Kochhar is accused of “sanctioning loans to private companies in a criminal conspiracy with other accused to cheat the ICICI Bank”.

The FIR followed a preliminary enquiry (PE) instituted on March 31, 2018, against Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochhar, Videocon Group officials and others to determine whether any wrongdoing was involved in the sanctioning of loan by the ICICI Bank as part of a consortium.

In January, Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee that probed the allegations against Kochhar found that she violated the bank’s code of conduct in dealing with conflict of interest and fiduciary duties in the case of loans to Videocon that had routed a part of the money to a company owned by her husband Deepak.