A special designated court Tuesday rejected the bail plea of suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, who is in jail in connection with alleged money laundering worth over Rs 1 crore, which was probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED), Ahmedabad. Sharma, who is facing multiple corruption cases, is lodged at Sabarmati Central Jail.
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Sharma moved the court, seeking bail, after ED filed the chargesheet against him in September this year. The chargesheet has alleged that Sharma siphoned off more than Rs 1 crore to his US-based wife, Shyamal, which he allegedly received as bribe.
The chargesheet has named five people who allegedly assisted Sharma in diverting money to his and his wife’s offshore back accounts. These people have been identified as Khojem Chhatriwala, Abbas Hazoori, Saifuddin Bhuria, Hujefa Chinchinwala and Moti Mali.
In the bail application filed through lawyer R J Goswami, Sharma has refuted all allegations. “We moved the plea on the ground that all the money claimed to have been laundered is accounted money. The chargesheet fails to prove that this is a case of money laundering,” Goswami said.
The ED officials opposed the bail stating that another case of hawala transaction was being probed against Sharma. They submitted that this probe was at a nascent stage and, therefore, he should not be granted bail. The ED officials have also pleaded that there is a transcript of conversion between Sharma and his wife Shyamal where Sharma is purportedly heard revealing about his bank account in the Swiss Bank.
“The conversation establishes that he has an account in Swiss Bank, but he can’t operate it without physically being there in the bank. He is talking about sending some documents to the bank, but he is apprehensive about being caught by the agencies,” ED officials said.
ED’s investigation is based on the case initially lodged by CID (crime) and Anti-Corruption Bureau which have already chargesheeted Sharma, alleging that he 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. Sharma was arrested by ED officials in July.