The Delhi High Court today sought the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) stand on the bail plea of a businessman arrested in connection with a post-demonetisation money laundering case also involving a lawyer. Justice S Muralidhar issued notice to the ED and sought its reply by June 19 on the regular bail plea of Yogesh Mittal, who is in the agency’s custody after his arrest on June 5 for the offence of money laundering. The court listed the matter for hearing on June 19, when the ED custody expires, and did not extend the date as sought by the agency, saying “liberty of a person is concerned here”. The petitioner has claimed that his arrest was illegal as he had already joined the investigation and appeared before the ED on 10 occasions. He also contended that he was not named in any of the scheduled offences listed in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for him to be arrested under this law. Mittal, in his plea, has further said that no ECIR has been lodged against him and added that the ED has not followed the procedure laid down under the Criminal Procedure Code prior to arresting him. The ED had arrested Mittal the PMLA for his alleged role in the illegal conversion of demonetised currency notes worth Rs 51 crore in “connivance” with lawyer Rohit Tandon, a suspended Kotak Mahindra bank manager and another person who acted as the entry operator or illegal fund router. It was alleged that Mittal was “instrumental in picking up Tandon’s demonetised cash on November 14-19 last year and depositing it in various bank accounts of shell companies.”
A “conspiracy” was hatched among Mittal, Tandon’s CA, Kamal Jain, ex-bank manager Ashish Kumar, entry operator Raj Kumar Goel and others, the agency had claimed. It had further contended before the trial court that the accused allegedly planned to collect and deposit the demonetised currency in various accounts of firms which have huge cash in hand and from those accounts demand drafts (DDs) in fictitious names would be issued.
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“Later, these DDs would be cancelled to get the money back into the accounts, thus converting the demonetised currency into monetised currency,” the agency had said. Currency notes of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 were demonetised by the government on November 8 last year. The ED took over the case and registered an FIR under PMLA after taking cognisance of a Delhi Police Crime Branch FIR on alleged fake accounts with deposits of Rs 34 crore.