Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez received gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore from conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar but is “trying to justify herself that she was in fact the victim of manipulative actions by Sukesh”, the Enforcement Directorate’s supplementary chargesheet filed against her alleges.
The supplementary chargesheet, filed at Patiala House court on August 17, has Fernandez as an accused. On Wednesday, the court took cognizance of the chargesheet and issued summons to her to appear before it on September 26 in a multi-crore money laundering case linked to Sukesh.
The agency claimed that Fernandez’s hairdresser shared an article in 2021 with her, detailing criminal cases Sukesh was facing. It alleges that apart from this, Fernandez also used Google search and “found various articles reflecting his criminal”. The agency stated that this article was shared with Fernandez within 10 days of her being introduced to Sukesh, and after she had received valuable gifts and money from him.
The article also mentioned that Sukesh was lodged in Tihar jail at the time, the ED claimed, adding that he “was giving instructions to transfer proceeds of crime for the use and enjoyment of Jacqueline and her family and she was in regular contact with him through mobile”. The ED also alleged that Fernandez knew that actor Leena Maria Paul was Sukesh’s wife, as mentioned in the news report in February, 2021.
Fernandez, on May 20 this year, told the agency in her statement that Sukesh had told her he was working with the government on an arms deal with Russia, owned coal mines, a prominent jewellery brand, a 50 percent stake in a five-star hotel, and an office in Noida.
Fernandez has in the past claimed that she searched about Sukesh by the name Shekhar Ratna Vela, but could not find anything about him. She later said that she did search the name Sukesh Chandrashekhar and tried to ask him not to contact her, but was intimidated by his political connections.
The agency has claimed in its chargesheet that she was “trying to justify herself that she was in fact the victim of manipulative actions by Sukesh. However, this is not correct.”
The agency alleged that she was trying to “justify her continuing relationship with him as a businessman despite knowing his past criminal antecedents”.
“When Jacqueline was searching for him on Google, it is surprising to note that she never bothered to find out whether Sukesh owned Kalyan Jewellers or not, he had coal mines or he had a 50 percent ownership of Hotel Leela Chennai,” the chargesheet states.
Fernandez had claimed that she had accepted explanations offered by Sukesh’s aides on his past criminal history. The ED has stated that this cannot be accepted as Fernandez is an “educated, public celebrity having sufficient means to cross verify the facts before receiving the proceeds of crime in the form of valuable gifts and hefty amounts for herself and her family members”.
The ED stated that it was apparent that she “has been resorting to factors such as fear of ED or damage to her or her family’s reputation or she being staying alone in Mumbai to cover up the fact that she was well aware of the criminal antecedents of Sukesh and Leena and was enjoying and using, and was in possession of proceeds of crime”.
The ED alleged that she “seemed to have conveniently overlooked or preferred to sideline the fact that he has strong criminal antecedents”.
The ED alleged that in the months of March, May and June, 2021, transfers were made to the bank account of her sister and brother to the tune of 172,913 US dollars and 26,740 Australian dollars, which was “nothing but proceeds of crime”.
The ED claimed that the expensive gifts Sukesh gave to Fernandez were done through accommodation entry providers from Kerala, Chennai, Mumbai, etc.
The ED alleged that the investigation conducted so far has revealed that Fernandez received gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore from Sukesh through his aide. The chargesheet also alleges that Fernandez “knowingly and deliberately deleted all the data in respect of conversation made by her with accused Sukesh from her mobile phones with the aim to hamper the investigation to save herself and her family members from the clutches of law”.
Fernandez’s lawyer Prashant Patil denied the allegations in the chargesheet and said she is “a victim, not an accused”. “There is no evidence against her, both oral or documentary. The allegations mentioned by the investigating agency are untrue. This is the modus operandi by the accused. He has done this to all other victims. She is a victim and not an accused in this case,” Patil told The Indian Express.