The Enforcement Directorate has filed a chargesheet against journalist Rana Ayyub in connection with a case alleging that she illegally acquired funds in the name of charity.
The Ghaziabad Police had registered the case in September 2021 with respect to the money raised through fundraiser campaigns via an online crowd funding platform, Ketto. Various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, Information Technology Act and the Black Money Act were invoked. Based on the case, the ED had initiated its money laundering probe.
It was also alleged that Ms. Ayyub, a journalist by profession, received overseas donations without registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation Act).
According to the ED, its probe revealed that Ms. Ayyub had launched three fundraiser campaigns on Ketto platform starting from April 2020 and collected funds totalling to over ₹2.69 crore. The campaigns were for help raising funds for slum dwellers and farmers, relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra, and assistance to those impacted by COVID-19 in the country.
The agency has alleged that the funds raised on the online platforms were received in the accounts of her father and sister and subsequently transferred to her personal accounts. Ms. Ayyub allegedly used the funds to create a fixed-deposit of ₹50 lakh for herself and also transferred Rs.50 lakh in a new bank account.
Only about ₹29 lakh was used for relief work, said the ED, alleging that in order to claim more expenses towards relief work, fake bills were submitted by Ms. Ayyub.
Bank balances in the accounts amounting to over ₹1.77 crore — including the fixed-deposit — were attached by the ED on February 4.
"ED investigation has established that Ms. Rana Ayyub had launched the aforesaid campaigns with the sole intention to cheat the general public and acquired proceeds of crime in the form of FD (fixed-deposit) and balances in bank accounts projecting them as untainted," said the agency.
Ms. Ayyub had earlier issued a statement terming the allegations in media baseless, mala fide and fanciful. Giving a detailed account of the funds and expenditure, she said that she had provided bills/invoices for relief work worth ₹40 lakh.
She donated ₹74.50 lakh to the CM CARES Fund of Maharashtra and the PM CARES Fund. Over ₹1.14 crore was used for relief work and ₹1.05 crore was collected as tax by the Income Tax Department, and the rest of the money was in the form of the fixed-deposit in her account, which had been created for setting up a hospital, said her statement.