The Gujarat High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a petition moved by Surat-based financier Jignesh Bhajiawala, son of tea and snack seller-turned millionaire financier Kishor Bhajiawala, for releasing around 25 bank accounts frozen by the central agency in connection with a money laundering case.
In the petition, Bhajiawala claimed that the ED didn’t issue any formal communication or an order either to him or his family members before freezing the accounts.
According to the petition moved through lawyer Chetan Pandya, the bank accounts were initially frozen by the Income Tax officials for the purpose of inquiry, but later the department released the accounts. However, the accounts were again frozen by the ED officials.
After the I-T Department claimed that Bhajiawala allegedly converted a huge amount of unaccounted money during the demonetisation drive, an FIR was lodged by the CBI, Gandhinagar. Based on this FIR, the ED officials had lodged a complaint under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Last month, the ED filed a chargesheet against the accused, including the petitioner. It alleged that “Jignesh Bhajiawala converted a huge amount of his unaccounted money post-demonetisation scheme into new high denomination currency through collusion with bank officials of private and public sector banks and private persons by impersonation and by using forged documents.”
The chargesheet read, “Pankaj Bhatt (also an accused), the then senior manager, Surat Peoples Co-Operative Bank Ltd., Udhna branch, Surat managed to procure 1,109 IDs from records of said bank and using the same, the accused Jignesh filled thousands of exchange forms prescribed by the RBI for exchange of old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 and these exchange forms were used by him to exchange his demonetised currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in collusion with bank officials.”
The ED also attached Rs 1 crore cash belonging to the petitioner which was earlier seized by Income tax.