Nearly three months after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the probe in the Sheena Bora murder case, the agency for the first time made a reference to reports of Rs 900 crore being siphoned off by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea during the INX News Pvt Ltd selloff.
The agency, in its remand application seeking further custody of Peter, told a court in Mumbai Thursday that it suspects the couple created an account in Sheena’s name, possibly in a bank in Singapore, to park money illegally. The agency said these financial transactions could be a motive behind the murder.
The agency said it received this information from the Income-Tax department and the Serious Fraud and Investigation Office (SFIO), an agency that works under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The CBI has also written to Interpol, seeking details on financial transactions and on the bank account held by the Mukerjeas overseas, said Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh in court. The court granted further custody till Monday.
“Reliable information has been received that the company M/S 9X Media Pvt Ltd being run by the accused, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, carried out its internal audit in which nine companies, having share-holding as on date 31.03.2009, were found and alleged to have instances of misallocation and siphoning off of substantial amount of funds by the accused,” the agency’s remand application said.
The CBI claimed Peter’s interrogation has thrown up information on a bank account in Sheena’s name in Singapore, an account opened by Indrani. “The accused revealed Indrani’s friend, Gayatri Ahuja, who holds a senior post with an international bank, helped Indrani open an account for Sheena. The couple had floated nine companies and there are layers of financial transactions. The nine companies were used to siphon off huge amount of monies and this might have been parked in Sheena’s account in a Singapore bank,” Singh told the court.
On November 19, the agency arrested former News X channel founder Peter in the case. The murder case was ‘chanced upon’ by Mumbai Police when they arrested the Mukerjeas’ former driver Shyam Rai this August. During interrogation, Rai allegedly said he killed Sheena along with Indrani and her second husband Sanjeev Khanna in April 2012. In September, the state government transferred the case to the CBI, citing complex financial dealings that need to be probed by a “competent” agency.
Peter’s counsel Mihir Gheewala and Kushal Mor countered the CBI, stating the chargesheet has said the motive for the murder was Indrani’s opposition to Sheena’s relationship with Peter’s son from a previous marriage, Rahul.
“CBI has suddenly twisted the case and motive is being reflected in a totally different manner. My client himself is a victim of his wife’s devious methods,” Gheewala argued. He contested the extension of custody on the ground that physical custody was not required for probing financial irregularities.
Later on Thursday, Peter was again flown to Delhi.