A Delhi court on Friday took cognisance of the prosecution complaint filed by Enforcement Directorate against Delhi Minister Satyendar Jain, which alleged that he had laundered proceeds of crime worth ₹4.81 crore between 2015 and 2017.
While taking cognisance of offences under Section 3 read with Section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Special CBI judge Geetanjali Goel held, “Looking to the material on record, it can be said that there is prima facie sufficient incriminating evidence about the involvement of the accused.”
The court summoned his wife, Poonam Jain, and other accused in the case, including four companies, and posted the matter for August 6.
On Friday, Mr. Jain was produced virtually from Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, where he was admitted soon after his arrest.
During the hearing on Friday, the court also rapped the ED for attempting to prosecute the four companies through Mr. Jain even though he no longer held a position in them, following which the agency said it would file an amended memo to list the current representatives of the companies.
The ED had earlier this week filed the prosecution complaint (akin to a chargesheet) against Mr. Jain and other accused in the case, which include his family members, relatives, and companies allegedly beneficially owned and controlled by him.
Based on CBI case
The ED’s money laundering case is based on a disproportionate assets FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in August 2017.
In the CBI case, where a chargesheet has been filed and the trial is under way, the agency alleged that Mr. Jain amassed assets worth ₹1.62 crore disproportionate to his disclosed sources of income between 2015 and 2017, during which time he was serving in the Delhi Cabinet.
In this case, the court noted that four Delhi based companies allegedly linked to Mr. Jain had been involved in laundering money worth ₹16.38 crore, which was allegedly illegally acquired between 2010 and 2016. In three of these companies (Prayas Infosolution Pvt. Ltd, Indo Metalimpex Pvt. Ltd, and Akinchan Developers Pvt. Ltd), Mr. Jain was a director before taking up his position in the Delhi government.
In its prosecution complaint, the ED alleged that Mr. Jain masterminded the laundering of proceeds of crimes worth ₹4.81 crore, which was purportedly part of the funds illegally acquired by the above-mentioned companies, including Mangalayatan Projects Pvt. Ltd and JJ Ideal Estate Pvt. Ltd.
The ED added that accommodation entries worth ₹4,81,16,435 were made into these companies during the check period. These entries were allegedly made from Kolkata-based shell companies in lieu of cash sent to hawala operators allegedly on instructions of Mr. Jain, the agency said, adding that the money received back into these companies in the form of share capital was further used to pay off loans and purchase agricultural land in various parts around Delhi in a bid to project the alleged ill-gotten wealth as clean.
The ED submitted, “The facts lead to an inevitable conclusion that the present case is a classic case of Money Laundering involving meticulous planning and execution at all three stages of placement, layering and integration of the proceeds of crime generated by A-1 (Mr. Jain) and his associates.”
A sustained contention of Mr. Jain’s lawyers has been that the ED is going beyond its mandate by computing the proceeds of crime to be more than the amount arrived at in the scheduled offence case, which in this case was argued to be at ₹1.62 crore.
Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju submitted that for the ED to probe money laundering, only the existence of a scheduled offence is needed and that the quantification of the proceeds of crime depended on the ED’s subsequent investigation, based on which in this case, the agency has computed the same as per provisions of the PMLA.