The ED has filed a charge sheet against Jignesh Bhajiawala, son of Surat-based businessman Kishore Bhajiawala, in a demonetisation-related money laundering case of Gujarat. The charge sheet, called prosecution complaint in ED parlance, has been filed yesterday before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Ahmedabad. “Jignesh has acquired and possessed the proceeds of crime and committed an offence of money laundering in terms of section 3 of the PMLA, punishable under section 4 of the said Act,” the agency said in a statement. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had registered a criminal FIR against Bhajiawala and his sons Jignesh and Vilas based on a CBI FIR against him.
The CBI registered the FIR after the Income Tax department conducted searches and seized gold and cash from his premises as part of their operation in December last year to check black money following ban on high value currency notes. Jignesh was also arrested by the ED in this case in January and at present he is in judicial custody. “Investigations have revealed that Jignesh Kishore bhai Bhajiawala converted a huge amount of his unaccounted money, post demonetisation, into new high denomination currency through collusion with bank officials of private and public sector banks and private persons by impersonation and by using forged documents.
“Jignesh, in collusion with Pankaj Bhatt, the then senior Manager of Surat Peoples’ Co-Operative Bank Limited, Udhna branch, managed to procure 1109 ID’s from records of the said bank and using the same, the accused (Jignesh) filed thousands of Annexure-5 forms (exchange forms prescribed by RBI for exchange of old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000) and these forms were used by him to exchange his demonetised currency in collusion with bank officials,” it said.
The agency charged that Jignesh “has therefore abused or misused the demonetised currency exchange scheme announced by the government and the RBI on November 8, 2016 by forging thousands of exchange forms in names of various persons…and obtained new currency notes in connivance with bank officers,” it said. The ED, last month, had also attached under PMLA over Rs 1.02 crore cash in new notes in the case.
The I-T department had recovered Rs 1.45 crore cash, with about Rs 1.05 crore in new currency notes, bullion worth Rs 1.49 crore, gold jewellery valued at Rs 4.92 crore, other ornaments worth Rs 1.39 crore and silver ingots priced at Rs 1.28 crore after raids on the premises of the Bhajiawalas’. “Further investigation is in progress,” the agency said.