The Enforcement Directorate, Ahmedabad, in its chargesheet filed against suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma in a special court recently, has claimed that Sharma and his wife “engaged in activities of large-scale money laundering…”. The chargesheet, filed in connection with the money-laundering case which has been accessed by this paper, alleged that Sharma sent more than Rs 1 crore to his US-based wife, Shyamal, through hawala channel.
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The chargesheet mentions the names of five people involved in hawala business, who are alleged to have diverted Sharma’s money to his and his wife’s offshore back accounts. The ED has identified the five men as Khojem Chhatriwala, Abbas Hazoori, Saifuddin Bhuria, Hujefa Chinchanwala and Moti Mali. They received Rs 1 crore from Sharma in instalments 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.
Hazoori has allegedly told ED officials that “he had received an amount of Rs 30 lakh from one Khojem A Chhatriwala on behalf of Pradeep Sharma”. Hazoori also told ED officials that he also received “cheques to the tune of Rs 31 lakh” and Rs 40-50 lakh in cash from Sharma “from time to time”. Hazoori claimed that he “forwarded” all the money received by him to one Saifuddin Bhuria of Mumbai to send “outside India”.
Similarly, Bhuria has claimed he received Rs 1 crore from Sharma through different channels, including 4 lakh in cash directly from him at Byculla in Mumbai. Bhuria claimed that he handed over the entire amount, which was meant to be sent “outside India”, to one Hujefa Chinchanwala of Mumbai.
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.
Sharma is behind the bars in this case since his arrest in July this year. He had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, accusing the then chief minister Narendra Modi of “victimisation”, and had sought CBI inquiry. His petition was rejected by the apex court.