November 24, 2020 3:37:33 am
Opposing bail to Deepak Kochhar, husband of Chanda Kochhar, former managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Bank, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has said the accused is attempting to “mislead” the court by linking two separate proceedings. Kochhar, while seeking bail, had relied on a relief granted to the couple by the adjudicating authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) earlier this month stating that assets attached by the ED do not qualify as proceeds of crime.
The ED has said in its reply that the proceedings before the authority were in regard to attachment of property and has no bearing on the criminal trial before the special court. “…(the) Adjudicating Authority (PMLA) has very limited scope in regard to Section 8 of the PMLA… only for adjudication of the provisionally attached property, it cannot exonerate the accused from the offence of money laundering. There is a wilful attempt on the part of the accused to mislead this court by linking the two separate proceedings,” the ED said.
“They (the two proceedings) are not only different in nature but also carried out with different objective at different forums with different set of procedure,” the ED further said. The ED also said that the order was passed by the authority without considering the material submitted by the agency and it is in the process of filing an appeal this month.
The ED also submitted that in this case, money of depositors of ICICI, which is public money, is involved and economic offences need to be viewed seriously. The ED has also said that while investigation regarding alleged proceeds of crime of Rs 64 crore and the transfer of a flat by Videocon Group to the family trust of Chanda Kochhar is complete, investigation on other issues and from other accused is continuing. The ED has submitted that Letters of Request have been issued to four countries for further information and analysis of digital devices too is continuing.
“The documents are also to be confronted to other accused persons. The employees and relatives of the accused are witnesses in this case of money laundering. Investigation from them is still going on, therefore bail should not be granted to the accused to make sure that he does not influence the witness and hamper the investigation in this case,” the ED further said. The ED also claimed that Kochhar had been ‘evasive’ and ‘non-cooperative’ throughout the probe.
The bail application by Kochhar filed through lawyers Vijay Agarwal and Rahul Agarwal claims he was exonerated by the adjudicating authority and hence to keep him in custody is not required. The application also states that the entire case relies on documentary evidence which is already with the ED and hence the question of tampering with evidence does not arise. The court will hear the bail plea on Tuesday.
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