February 26, 2021 8:22:49 pm
A Special court on Friday declared three family members of deceased gangster Iqbal Memon alias Iqbal Mirchi as “fugitive economic offenders” in connection with a money laundering investigation.
The court allowed an application filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Memon’s two sons, Junaid and Asif, and his wife, Hajra, under the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act, 2018. The three had failed to appear before the ED when summons were issued for a probe last year, nor did they appear before the court after the ED had filed a plea under the FEO Act in December 2020. The next step as per the Act would be to empower the investigating agencies to confiscate the properties belonging to the accused.
The ED alleged that there were illegal transactions of properties — to the tune of Rs 200 crore — belonging to the late gangster who had fled the country over 30 years ago after being named in cases involving extortion and smuggling, among other offences. The ED claimed that while the sums were proceeds of crime derived through Memon’s criminal activities, the properties were sold through collusion between his family members, brokers, a member of a trust and one Kapil Wadhawan, the promoter of Dewan Housing Finance Limited. The ED had summoned the three family members of Memon, whose last known location is suspected to be the UAE, to join the probe.
Special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves said that the three were asked to join the probe by the ED through summons, but a representation was sent through a lawyer, which stated that he would be present on the trio’s behalf instead. Following this, the court had issued non-bailable warrants against the three and declared them as absconding accused.
The ED in December 2020 filed the application under the FEO Act to facilitate the confiscation of 15 properties of the three accused, including two floors of Ceejay House in Worli valued approximately at Rs 96 crore, and six bank accounts with a total balance of Rs 1.9 crore.
The ED told the court that as per provisions of the Act, a notice regarding their application was sent to the email through which the accused had communicated previously, but no response was received. An advertisement in a newspaper regarding the notice was also issued, the court was told.
The FEO Act empowers the investigating authority to attach and confiscate properties and assets of alleged economic offenders, who have fled the country and are not available for the probe, and subsequent criminal prosecution. Businessman Vijay Mallya and diamond jeweller Nirav Modi have been similarly declared fugitive economic offenders under the Act.
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