Freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma, who was in September 2019 arrested by Delhi police for alleged espionage at the best of China, has now been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for alleged money laundering. The agency had registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Sharma on the basis on the Delhi police FIR in the espionage matter.
ED arrested the journalist on Thursday and has secured his seven-day custody from a special court.
“During investigation, it was revealed that Rajeev Sharma had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese Intelligence officers in exchange for remuneration thereby compromising the security and national interests of India,” ED said in a statement.
According to ED, for this work, Sharma allegedly received cash through hawala by Mahipalpur-based shell companies that were run by Chinese nationals Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha and Quing Shi along with a Nepalese national Sher Singh alias Raj Bohara.
“Apart from cash, huge transactions were made with various Chinese companies and some other trading companies in India which are being examined. These Chinese companies were acting as a conduit for the Chinese Intelligence agencies to provide remuneration for persons like Rajeev Sharma indulged in criminal activities. Rajeev Sharma also received money through benami bank accounts in order to conceal his involvement in criminal activities,” the ED statement said.
Following his arrest in 2019, the Delhi Police had said Sharma was passing sensitive information about India’s border strategy and Army deployment to Chinese intelligence.
At a press conference, Special Cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav had said Sharma was writing on defence-related issues for some Indian media organisations, as well as China’s Global Times.
It is alleged that he was contacted by Chinese Intelligence agents in 2016. Sharma was also allegedly in contact with some Chinese intelligence officer, the police officer had said, adding that the freelance journalist got Rs 40 lakh in one-and-a-half years and he was getting USD 1,000 for each information.
Sharma was arrested on September 14, 2020, based on inputs from central intelligence. Police have seized classified defence documents from him, the DCP had said.
He had said that a Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate have also been arrested for allegedly paying Sharma large amounts of money routed through shell companies.