The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday asked a local court that it be allowed to probe a money-laundering case against Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and his wife, while contesting the Mumbai Police’s decision to close a cheating case against the couple.

The two law enforcement agencies have been at loggerheads after the city police in June closed the cheating case. The ED filed a protest petition, asking the court to not accept the closure report as the federal agency is probing a serious offence of money laundering. The federal agency which probes money-laundering cases, requires a predicate offence, such as the one filed by the Mumbai Police, to conduct its investigation.

The Mumbai Police had objected to the ED’s protest petition.

The ED claimed in the court that the police had failed to investigate the details of certain offshore accounts provided by the complainant, Akbar Travels

of India, in the cheating case. There is evidence of money laundering and it is not a case of business loss as concluded by the police, it argued.

The federal agency asserted that the local police had failed to even record the statement of the accused, which was a requisite of any criminal investigation.

On Thursday, ED’s counsel Hiten Venegaonkar argued that since the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was an evolving law, the scope of definition of “victim” should be widened to include others who have an interest in the case. He also argued that since the federal agency was conducting a parallel probe stemming out of the predicate offence, it had the locus standi to contest the closure report filed by the city police

The court had last week acceded to the ED’s request to not allow the Goyals’ plea opposing the ED’s jurisdiction in filing a protest plea. The agency had argued that the accused couple cannot intervene at this juncture.

In June, the ED in its intervention application filed before the court claimed that its probe had revealed that Goyal had misappropriated funds and diverted the money into his wife’s and his personal accounts.

Goyal had denied any wrongdoing. “…it appears that the police have completely ignored the issues raised in the complaint that Jet Airways and Goyal are having bank accounts abroad where money is diverted in an illegal manner and, therefore, the assumption that Jet Airways suffered business loss is an eyewash,” the ED’s application said. “…it appears that Jet Airways suffered losses at the cost of enriching Goyal and his family members,” it added.

“Police have not recorded the statement of Goyal or confronted him with the complaint. It was imperative that Goyal was confronted with all the allegations and specific facts like bank accounts in foreign countries,” it said.

Detailing out the investigation into the money laundering case, the ED claimed that it had unearthed numerous foreign bank accounts allegedly held by the couple abroad, including in the UAE, UK, Switzerland, Singapore and the US.

According to the agency, the couple also held eight offshore properties and had financial investments in bonds, whose source remained unexplained.

“During investigation it was found that Goyal is not disclosing the details of these foreign accounts. He has not cooperated with the investigation and is deliberately not obtaining bank statements of these accounts,” the ED alleged.

“Details of the property are not fully disclosed. Goyal has not explained the source of funds for buying various properties,” it added.


News Source: Economic Times


By Editor

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