The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed the plea moved by Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez, who sought quashing of ECIR (FIR) and supplementary chargesheet filed by Enforcement Directorate in Rs 200 Crore money laundering case involving alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, said it’s not maintainable.
ED in its reply stated the investigation carried out by the ED under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002 is different and distinct from the investigation of the police authorities, which is for the commission of scheduled offences. The accused in the offence of money laundering are bound to be in addition and/or different from the accused of the predicate offence as the nature of offence is distinct.
Plea submitted that merely the fact that the predicate agency has chosen to array the petitioner as a witness in the predicate offence does not ipso facto mean that she has not committed the offence of money laundering, which is a separate and distinct offence.
Recently, the Delhi High Court asked ED to file its reply on Jacqueline Fernandez’s petition. Earlier, ED had opposed the Jacqueline plea and submitted that she kept enjoying Sukesh’s gifts even after knowing his criminal antecedents. Peririon to quash the case in an attempt to stall proceedings.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal and Advocate Prashant Patil appeared for Jacqueline and submitted that being in the public eye and being labelled as money laundering is problematic. My prayer is to not quash the complaint completely; it’s only qua the present applicant, (Jacqueline). “Sukesh is sitting in jail and carrying out extortion and fraud from there. EOW comes to me, records my statement, finds that what I have to say is relevant to their investigation. Ed have filed four complaints, but, investigation is still going on, the trial cannot start,” said Sr Adv Siddharth Aggarwal.
Jacqueline, through her plea, stated that evidence filed by the Directorate of Enforcement would prove that the petitioner is an innocent victim of Sukesh Chandrashekhar’s maliciously targeted attack. There is absolutely no indication that she had any involvement whatsoever in aiding him to launder his purportedly ill-gotten wealth. Hence, she cannot be prosecuted for the offences under Sections 3. and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
Jacqueline also stated that the Directorate of Enforcement has acted in a partisan manner while arraigning the petitioner as an accused in the impugned complaint. The Directorate of Enforcement has given a clean chit to Nora Fatehi despite it being an admitted fact on record that her family member received a BMW car from Sukesh Chandrashekhar on her instructions. It is important to note herein that the fact of Nora Fatehi receiving a gift from Sukesh Chandrashekhar has been presented by the Directorate of Enforcement under the heading ‘Dissipation of proceeds of crime.
She also stated that the Directorate of Enforcement is playing hot and cold at the same time. In identical facts, the petitioner has been arraigned as an accused, Aditi Singh has been identified as original complainant, and artists like Nora Fatehi, whose family member received a BMW car, and other artists like Nikita Tamboli, Chahatt Khanna, and Sophyia Singh, who physically visited the Tihar Jail premises, have not been arraigned as accused. This reflects a malafide investigation against the present petitioner.
The entire case put forth by the Directorate of Enforcement hinges on a single alleged news article shared with the petitioner. Based on this sole piece of evidence, the Directorate of Enforcement contends that the petitioner might have been aware of Sukesh’s imprisonment but still chose to accept gifts from him; thereby, she has been arraigned as an accused for the offence of money laundering, plea stated.
A mere perusal of this article reveals that it was published in the year 2020, which is more than a year before the date on which the FIR in the predicate offense was registered by the EOW Delhi. This article contains no information whatsoever about the scheduled offence, thus rendering it impossible to ascribe any knowledge of the scheduled offence to the petitioner based on this article.
Jacqueline Fernandez is being investigated by the ED in a Rs 200 crore money laundering case involving alleged conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar. Jacqueline Fernandez earlier appeared before the probe agency for questioning in a money laundering investigation against alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar and others.
Jacqueline Fernandezis a Sri Lankan National living in India since 2009, belongs to a Bollywood Fraternity and holds a good name in the Bollywood industry, stated the application. She earlier stated that, being a renowned film actress, she has been invited to events, press conferences, rehearsals, and participation in the event.
The applicant has always joined the investigation before the Enforcement Directorate and remains present in all court proceedings, following the law of the land. She earlier stated that she is ready and willing to abide by any such conditions that this Court may deem fit to impose if the prayer sought is granted, in accordance with the law.
The Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police earlier also filed a supplementary chargesheet against Pinki in connection with an investigation into the Rs 200 crore extortion case involving conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.
According to Delhi police, Mumbai-based Pinky Irani is said to be a close aide of Chandrashekhar, who introduced him to Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez. The fresh supplementary also mentioned the progress taken place through recording of various statements, including Jacqueline Fernandez, Nora Fatehi, etc.
This ED case is based on an FIR filed by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) against Sukesh Chandrasekhar, who is accused of cheating and extorting Aditi Singh, wife of former promoter of Religare Enterprises Shivinder Mohan Singh, who was arrested in October 2019 in a case related to alleged misappropriation of funds at Religare Finvest Ltd.
Chandrasekhar and his associates reportedly took money from Aditi after posing as government officials and promising to get bail for her husband. Chandrasekhar reportedly persuaded Aditi to transfer money by impersonating a central government official over a spoof call while he was lodged in Rohini jail and promised to manage bail for her husband.
Both Chandrasekhar and his actor wife, Leena Maria Paul were arrested by the Delhi Police in September last year for their alleged role in the duping case.
(with inputs from ANI)