The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail petition of former IAS officer Pradeep Sharma in an alleged money laundering case probed by the Enforcement Directorate, Ahmedabad. Sharma is lodged at Sabarmati Central Jail, Ahmedabad since his arrest in July last year.
He has sought bail on the ground pleading innocence and several other grounds including involvement of former joint director, ED, JP Singh in a corruption case. Justice AJ Desai, however, rejected the ground while dismissing the petition.
ED chargesheeted Sharma last year alleging that he used at least five persons to divert money to his and his wife’s offshore back accounts through hawala channel. The ED has identified the five men as Khojem Chhatriwala, Abbas Hazoori, Saifuddin Bhuria, Hujefa Chinchanwala and Moti Mali. They allegedly received Rs 1 crore from Sharma in installments which was sent to his wife’s account in the US.
According to the chargesheet, Sharma knew Chhatriwala, Hazoori and Bhuria, but he has denied any financial deal with them. On the other hand, Chhatriwala has reportedly told ED officials that he received Rs 25-30 lakh on behalf of Sharma and the amount was transferred to Hazoori who comes from Surat. The chargesheet says that Sharma knew the trio since his days at District Collector in Bhuj.
ED’s finding is based on the case lodged by CID (crime) and Anti-Corruption Bureau which have already chargesheeted Sharma who allegedly sanctioned huge land at cheaper price to Welspun India Ltd and its sister concerns in gross violation of norms. This had caused financial loss to the state government to the tune of Rs 1.20 crore.