The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the stand of the Enforcement Directorate on a plea by jailed AAP minister Satyendar Jain seeking bail in a money laundering case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma issued notice on Jain’s bail plea and granted two weeks’ time to the investigating agency to file its status report.
Senior advocate N Hariharan, representing the minister, said there are no “proceeds of crime” in the case and it is based only on “notional basis”. “There are no proceeds of crime in the case. No proceeds of crime were generated. As far as the predicate offence is concerned, no predicate offence was committed. It is all based on a notional basis,” he said.
Advocate Zoheb Hossain, who appeared on behalf of the ED, sought time to file a status report in response to the bail plea. Jain has sought bail in relation to the ED’s case registered on September 30, 2017 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and said in his plea that he is neither in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence nor he is a flight risk.
Further, as the charge sheet has already been filed, there is no requirement to continue his incarceration in the present case, he has asserted.Jain has challenged the trial court’s November 17 order by which his bail plea was dismissed on grounds that he was prima facie involved in concealing the proceeds of crime.
“He is already in jail for more than four months now. He is already on bail in CBI case –no allegation that he misused the bail granted in CBI case. Hence, the applicant is entitled to regular bail pending trial,” the plea has argued.In his plea, the AAP leader has claimed that since he was not in possession of any proceeds, the offence under the PMLA was not made out.
It has claimed that the special judge and ED has gravely misread and misapplied the PMLA by identifying proceeds of crime solely on the basis of accommodation entries which cannot itself lead to a punishable offence under the Act. Proceeds of crime under the PMLA has to be derived as a result of scheduled criminal activity, it has said.
Jain, who was arrested by the ED on May 30, is currently in judicial custody. He was granted regular bail by a trial court on September 6, 2019 in the case lodged by the CBI. Besides him, the trial court had also denied bail to two co-accused — Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain – saying they “knowingly” assisted Jain in concealing the proceeds of crime and were “prima facie guilty” of money laundering.
The trial court had said “prima facie” Jain was “actually involved in concealing the proceeds of crime by giving cash to Kolkata-based entry operators and thereafter, bringing the cash into three companies… against the sale of shares to show that income of these three companies was untainted one.” “By this process, the proceeds of crime to the tune of 1/3rd of Rs 4.61 crore has been laundered. Apart from that, Jain has also used the same modus operandi to convert his proceeds of crime of Rs 15 lakh by receiving accommodation entries from Kolkata-based entry operators in his company by the name of J J Ideal Estate Pvt Ltd,” it had noted.
It had said that Jain had knowingly done such activity to obliterate the tracing of the source of ill-gotten money and accordingly the proceeds of crime was layered through Kolkata-based entry operators in a way that its source was difficult to decipher. “Hence, applicant/accused Satyendar Kumar Jain has prima facie indulged in the offence of money laundering of more than Rs 1 crore,” the trial court had said, adding that money laundering was a “serious economic offence”. Jain is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.
Earlier this year, the trial court also took cognisance of the prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed by the ED against Jain, his wife and eight others, including the four firms, in connection with the money laundering case. The matter would be heard next by the high court on December 20.