A Delhi court on Friday sent journalist Upendra Rai to 14-day judicial custody in a money laundering case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat sent Rai to jail after the Enforcement Directorate said it did not require him for further custodial interrogation. Delhi-based scribe Rai, who was present in the court, was on Thursday sent to a day’s ED custody. He has already undergone 15 days of custodial interrogation.
Special public prosecutor N K Matta, appearing for the ED, moved an application in the court saying Rai be sent to jail as his custody was not needed anymore. On Thursday, Rai had denied before the court all the allegations levelled against him by the agency. The scribe submitted that he had started his career at the age of 26 and worked with big media houses.
The agency had claimed before the court that “top secret documents” were recovered from Rai’s possession and the ED was trying to find out how he procured them. It alleged that the accused had extorted money from various persons claiming he had information against them as he was a journalist. Thousands of crores of rupees was extorted, the ED has alleged.
Rai was arrested on June 8 by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at the Tihar jail here, moments after he secured bail in a Central Bureau of Investigation case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions.
The agency had alleged that the scribe frequently travelled abroad to park his ill-gotten money and his custodial interrogation was needed to unearth the larger conspiracy. He was arrested by the CBI on May 3 for allegedly indulging in dubious financial transactions, getting an airport access pass made by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) by furnishing false information, alleged extortion and manipulation of an Income Tax Department case against a Mumbai-bound businessman.
The Supreme Court had on May 4 refused to interfere with his arrest by the CBI. The ED had registered a money laundering case against him based on the CBI FIR. It had claimed to have recovered, after searches at Rai’s premises and those linked to him, call data records of a senior ED official and an IAS officer earlier posted with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, besides confidential communication between a Singapore-based Indian High Commission official and a former ED chief.
The recoveries allegedly included income tax assessment orders of various companies and suspicious transaction reports of nearly 140 firms generated by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) after joint CBI-ED searches. In his application seeking protection from arrest, Rai had claimed he was framed in the case because of his writings against an ED officer, who was part of the team probing the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.
Prasun Roy, chief security officer of Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd, was also booked in the case by the CBI, which had carried out searches at eight locations in Lucknow, Noida, Delhi and Mumbai. In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that going by the value of transactions of over Rs one lakh during 2017, Rai’s accounts received Rs 79 crore while Rs 78.51 crore was debited from it during the same period.