The Supreme Court Friday declined to give protection from arrest to suspended Gujarat IAS officer Pradeep Sharma in connection with investigation of money laundering being investigated Enforcement Directorate since 2011. A bench of Justices P C Ghose and Uday U Lalit also vacated the interim order, preventing his arrest on the condition of his appearing before the investigating officers as and when called.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, claimed that the agency has found trail of money transactions through hawala transactions whereby the money is sent by Sharma to his wife in the US through hawala routes of Dubai, Singapore etc. Mehta said Sharma did not disclose various bank accounts and after the competent court issued Letters Rogatory the US Department of Justice sent details regarding such accounts and money transactions.
Pressing for Sharma’s custodial interrogation, the ASG contended that there was sufficient evidence to show trail of illegal money transactions through hawala operators. Sharma is facing arrest in this case that was lodged by ED in March 2012 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. It has been alleged that Sharma sold government land at a cheaper rate to Kutch-based Welspun Group while serving as Collector of Kutch in 2004. Probe revealed that Sharma remitted Rs 1.73 crore to the US through hawala channels. Sharma was held by the ACB last year and was granted bail by a Bhuj district court.