During the bail hearing of AAP minister Satyendar Jain, who is currently in jail in connection with an alleged money laundering case, a Delhi judge asked the Enforcement Directorate why it went beyond the CBI case by investigating alleged proceeds of crime not mentioned in their chargesheet. It sought an explanation on what the criminality in this case is, and remarked that the companies said to be cheated by the AAP leader were also made accused.
The CBI had chargesheeted Jain for allegedly amassing assets to the tune of Rs 1.47 crore in a Disproportionate Assets (DA) case. Later, the ED attached properties worth Rs 4.81 crore in connection with a money laundering probe. The ED has wrapped up arguments in the bail application, and Jain’s lawyers will rebut arguments raised by the ASG.
Pointing to the two different figures, Special Judge Geetanjli Goel asked ASG S V Raju, appearing for the ED, “Can Rs 4.61 crore be the proceeds of crime when the CBI in its chargesheet has mentioned Rs 1.46 crore? Can the amount exceed the amount mentioned in the DA case?”
To this, ASG Raju said, “Figure is not so sacrosanct.”
Asking the ASG how the ED can attribute a higher amount in their case, the judge said the CBI had mentioned the same amount in its chargesheet and was aware of the amount. The judge then gave an example to illustrate her point. “I come to a finding that there are no disproportionate assets of Rs 1.47 crore… then can you pursue the case for the remaining amount (mentioned by the ED)?”
The ASG said, “At this stage, we can take.”
The judge further pressed her questions, “How? On what basis? What is the criminal activity involved in that? What are the proceeds of crime? Can Rs 4.61 crore be proceeds of crime when 1.47 crore is the predicate offence?”
The agency attributed the figure to accommodation entries. To this, the court said, “Even if they take accommodation entries, what is the criminal activity? It could be, at the most, a person with undisclosed income. Where is the criminal activity in this?”
The ASG told the court that there was an additional offence of cheating in this case.
Special Judge Goel said, “Somebody has been cheated by Satyendar Jain, who is an accused in your own complaint. Who is cheated? The company. Those very same companies have been made an accused in your case.”
ASG Raju told the court that the agency is not bound by the figure quoted by the CBI, which may change during the framing of charges. “It (figure) may change… to bind me to CBI amount will be premature.”
The judge has asked the ASG whether the agency could say that Jain was in control of the accused companies if he was not a shareholder. ASG Raju said, “A person may not be a shareholder and be in control.”
“He is actually in control. Shareholding is misleading. A shrewd operator would have no shareholding. The strings are controlled by him… On paper, it could be that the shareholders are beneficiaries. But if they are his cronies it has to be looked into,” Raju told the court.