He was alleged to be one of the biggest tax defaulters in the country, owing the government tax dues to the tune of Rs 37,000 crore. His flamboyant lifestyle made the charges of money-laundering look entirely believable.
Eleven years down the line, Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan is in a sorry state. Confined mostly to bed in his Koregaon Park residence because of multiple illnesses, Khan has been pleading with law enforcement agencies for a quick end to their investigations. On Monday, he moved an application in Mumbai, requesting speedy trial of the cases against him, saying he was in bad health and counting his last days. The court has ordered that the trial be started by January 30.
“When my house was raided in 2007, the world called me the biggest money-launderer, based on fake reports. Ten years down the line, no one is asking why these people have been shying away from prosecution,” Khan said, lamenting the fact that the authorities had not even framed charges against him. In the meanwhile, a bulk of the accusations against Khan have crumbled.
Now 63, Khan hit the headlines in 2007 when the Income Tax Department claimed that his income between 2001-02 and 2007-08 was Rs 1,10,410 crore (Rs 1.1 lakh crore). Accordingly, it had assessed his tax liability on this income was Rs 37,000 crore.
However, in February 2016, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, in its ruling, brought the income figure down to a mere Rs 10 crore, and the tax liability at just Rs 3 crore, after the I-T Department failed to establish its claims in court. The matter was sent back to the assessing officer for re-assessment. The re-assessment is known to have been completed on December 30, 2017, but the outcome could not be ascertained.
According to a source close to the investigation, the income tax assessment formed one of the bases for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to slap money-laundering charges on Khan. Khan was arrested in March 2011, and in May that year, the ED charged him with laundering $8 billion. According to some reports, he was accused of having links with Saudi Arabian businessman and international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Khan was released on bail late 2015.
Khan is now barely able to walk. His diabetes has worsened, leading to eyesight and spleen complications, and kidneys are in bad condition. His 13-year-old son’s schooling has been affected and the family lives almost in a state of social boycott. His advocate Prashant Patil said the family did not have any source of income at present.
“This fake case has ruined my life and my family’s life forever. I suffered for years behind bars for no fault of mine. This stress and pressure has affected me to the stage that both my kidneys have failed and I am on continuous dialysis,” Khan said.
“I am a citizen of this country. I have complete faith in the judiciary, but I deserve a free, fair and expeditious trial which has been denied to me. The second accused in the case is no more, in my lifetime I may not be able to see the end of trial. When there were raids at my residence, everybody made a hue and cry out of it. There were allegations that were not true, but when it comes to proving them, everybody is shying off. Who is accountable for this?” he asked.
His lawyer, Patil, blamed the agencies for deliberately delaying the trial process. “The chargesheet in the matter was filed in 2011. It is surprising that ED has not bothered to file even draft charges. It is unfortunate that Khan has been denied expeditious trial,” Patil said.
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