A court in Delhi Saturday denied bail to AAP minister Satyendar Jain in an alleged money laundering case being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, saying that the accused enjoys an influential position and it cannot be ruled out that he could influence the witnesses.
Special Judge Geetanjli Goel also said that Jain cannot be granted bail only on the ground that he suffers from sleep apnea. No specific ground has been taken in the bail application regarding the medical condition of the accused and no documents have been produced to show the extent of the medical condition, said the court.
“The matter is still stated to be at the stage of investigation and it was stated that additional documents recovered during the search operations were yet to be examined and analysed and even the complaint is yet to be filed, so the possibility of tampering with evidence cannot be ruled out,” it said.
Judge Goel also took note of Section 45(1)(ii) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act which states that the court considering the bail application has to be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such an offence and that he is not likely to commit an offence on bail.
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Jain has been in custody since May 30. He was arrested by the central agency in connection with an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) registered by it on the basis of a case lodged by the CBI in August 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Jain is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him. He was sent to judicial custody on June 13 on completion of his ED custody.
According to the ED, Jain, between February 2015 and May 2017, when he was a minister, allegedly acquired assets that were disproportionate to his known sources of income. It is alleged by the ED and CBI that Jain and his family members had active control over at least four companies that laundered money to the tune of Rs 11.78 crore during the years 2010 to 2012 and Rs 4.63 crore during the check period. The ED alleges that accommodation entries were layered and received from Kolkata-based shell companies into the companies “owned by” Jain and agricultural lands were purchased from those funds.
Senior advocate N Hariharan, who represented Jain, while seeking bail for him, had argued that ED already had a money trial in the case and properties in question stood attached. The court was also told that he meets the triple test of bail as he was not a flight risk and there was no question of any threat to the witnesses.
“ED had referred to accommodation entries of Rs.4.81 crore and one-third was taken as belonging to the accused which was not as per the shareholding pattern in the companies in question, which showed that the accused did not have any majority shareholding in either of the companies and had only minuscule shareholdings, hence by no stretch of imagination it could be said that the accused controlled or managed the three companies and he had no culpability,” Hariharan had told the court, adding that there was no evidence to show that cash at any point emanated from Jain.
Jain’s counsel also told the court that the agricultural lands had been purchased by the companies, which are distinct entities, and not by Jain. He also had contended that Jain was a victim of a witch-hunt by ED on account of ulterior motives.
ED had argued that Jain “never cooperated” with the central agency and that there was a threat to the witnesses whose evidence was vital to the case. It was contended by the agency that Jain did not pass the test laid down under Section 45 PMLA. Stating that the investigation was still at a crucial stage, ED had described him as a “kingpin” in getting the accommodation entries. Jain’s exit from the companies was only a sham, the agency alleged.
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