Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez, accused in a Rs 200-crore money laundering case, was knowingly involved in the possession and use of proceeds of crime of alleged conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has contended before the Delhi High Court.
The ED’s contention was made in an affidavit filed in response to Ms Fernandez’s plea seeking quashing of an FIR against her in the money laundering case allegedly involving Chandrasekhar.
The matter was listed before Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri and the counsel representing Ms Fernandez sought time to file a rejoinder in response to the ED’s affidavit.
The high court listed the matter for further hearing on April 15.
In its reply, ED claimed Ms Fernandez never revealed the truth regarding the financial transactions with Chandrasekhar and always concealed facts until confronted with evidence.
“She continues to hold back the truth even till date. It is also a fact that Fernandez wiped out the entire data from her mobile phone after the arrest of Chandrasekhar, thereby tampering with the evidence. She also asked her colleagues to destroy the evidence. Evidence proves beyond doubt that she had been enjoying, using and is in possession of proceeds of crime. Thus, it is proved that Fernandez was knowingly involved in the possession and use of proceeds of crime of accused Chandrasekhar,” it said.
The agency said initially in her statements, the actor tried to cover up her conduct by claiming that she has been the victim of Chandrasekhar, however, during investigation, she failed to provide any substantial material to establish victimisation by him.
It said that she was aware of the criminal antecedents of Chandrasekhar, still she continued to receive, enjoy and possess proceeds of crime for herself and her family members.
The ED said initially Fernandez did not admit to receiving huge sums of money and valuable gifts from him for her family in India and abroad and added that these luxury items were proceeds of crime being generated out of criminal activity.
Regarding the submission of Ms Fernandez that she has been presented as a prosecution witness in the predicate offence in which the FIR was lodged by the Special Cell of Delhi Police and cannot be made an accused in the money laundering case, the ED said the definition of the offence of money laundering does not stipulate that to trigger section 3 of PMLA, a person should also be proved to be involved in predicate offence besides his involvement in the offence of money laundering.
The probe agency said Ms Fernandez was well aware of the criminal antecedents of Chandrasekhar and also the fact that Leena Maria Paul is his wife but despite this, she continued the relationship with him and also received financial benefits from him which are nothing but proceeds of crime.
The ED has also opposed the petition on the ground of maintainability, saying a special court has taken cognisance of the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) and taken a view that a prima facie case is made out to be proceeded with, and there is no challenge to the cognisance order.
Ms Fernandez said in her plea, “At the outset it is submitted that evidence filed by the ED would prove that the petitioner (Fernandez) is an innocent victim of Chandrasekhar’s maliciously targeted attack. There is absolutely no indication that she had any involvement whatsoever in aiding him to launder his purportedly ill-gotten wealth. Hence, she cannot be prosecuted for the offences under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.”
It said the prosecution complaint filed against her confirmed that nowhere it has been alleged that she had the knowledge about the nefarious activities of Chandrasekhar in extorting money from complainant Aditi Singh.
“The entire complaint is silent about even a remote allegation of knowledge as attributed to the petitioner. It is impossible to suggest that the petitioner knowingly engaged in any of the activities that is today punished by Section 3 of the PMLA,” the plea said.
She claimed she had no knowledge whatsoever of the predicate offence — the main offence of extortion — committed by Chandrasekhar and his associates.
She alleged that the ED has acted in a partisan manner while arraigning her as an accused in the money laundering case.
“The ED has given a clean chit to Nora Fatehi (another Bollywood actor) despite it being an admitted fact on record that her family member received a BMW car from Sukesh Chandrasekhar on her instructions. It is of importance to note that the fact of Nora Fatehi receiving gifts from Sukesh Chandrasekhar has been presented to ED under the head ‘dissipation of proceeds of crime’,” it submitted.
Ms Fernandez has appeared before the ED for questioning in the money laundering investigation against Chandrasekhar and others.
The Delhi Police had earlier registered an FIR against Chandrasekhar for allegedly duping the spouses of former promoters of Ranbaxy — Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh — of Rs 200 crore. There are other ongoing investigations against him in several cases across the country.
Chandrasekhar and his wife Leena Maria Paul, facing proceedings in a money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate, were earlier arrested by Delhi Police, along with others.
Police have also invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the case.
The Delhi Police had alleged that Paul and Chandrasekhar along with others used hawala routes and created shell companies to park the money earned as proceeds of crime.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)