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Satyendar Jain moves Delhi High Court for bail in case under PMLA

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Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, who is currently behind bars in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), has moved the Delhi High Court for bail.

Jain filed a bail application in the High Court, challenging a Trial Court order, which refused him bail in the PMLA case. The High Court is likely to hear the matter later this week. 

The AAP leader contended that he was not in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence and was not a flight risk person, if granted relief in the case related to ED’s ECIR (the equivalent of FIR) registered on September 30, 2017,

He further submitted that since he was not in possession of any proceeds, the offence under the PMLA was not made out.

The application further claimed that the special judge and the ED had gravely misread and misapplied the PMLA by identifying proceeds of crime solely on the basis of accommodations entries, which itself could not lead to a punishable offence under the Act.

Jain, who was arrested by ED on May 30 under the PMLA, said that the proceeds of crime under the PMLA had to be derived as a result of scheduled criminal activity

On November 17 this year, Special Judge Vikas Dhull of Rouse Avenue Court had refused bail to the Aam Aadmi Party leader on the grounds that he hid the proceeds of crime.

Jain sought bail on the grounds that there was nothing illegal that could be attributed to the case. However, the Enforcement Directorate mentioned that the AAP leader was very influential, had converted “black money into white money” and had also tampered with evidence.

Appearing for the Minister, Senior Advocate N Hariharan had contended before the Trial Court that Jain’s only fault was that he became a Minister and joined public life. Apart from this, there was nothing in the case, which could be attributed to the AAP leader.

Earlier, Special Judge Geetanjli Goel was hearing the submissions in Jain’s bail plea and while the matter was in its final leg, ED sought transfer of the matter alleging bias on part of the judge.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a case against Jain under Sections 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant) read with 13(e) (disproportionate assets) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

CBI alleged that Jain had acquired movable properties in the name of various persons between 2015 and 2017, which he could not satisfactorily account for.

The AAP leader was subsequently arrested on May 30 by the ED on the basis of its investigation into the money laundering aspect under PMLA.

ED had also attached immovable properties worth Rs 4.81 crore belonging to M/s Akinchan Developers Pvt Ltd, M/s Indo Metal Impex Pvt Ltd, M/s Paryas Infosolutions Pvt Ltd, M/s Manglayatan Projects Pvt Ltd, M/s JJ Ideal Estate Pvt Ltd, and other persons under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.

The enforcement agency alleged that these companies, which were ‘beneficially-owned and controlled’ by Jain, had received accommodation entries amounting to Rs 4.81 crore from shell companies against cash transferred to Kolkata-based entry operators through a hawala route.

Jain’s Counsel denied the claim, arguing that he was nowhere related to the dealings of the companies, as he was only a ‘minority’ shareholder in them. He further said that a minority shareholder could not exercise control over the companies.

As per Hariharan, a director was only an agent of the company. He said the shareholding pattern of the companies showed that even in the best possible scenario, ED could only attribute a sum of Rs 59 lakh to Jain, adding that the notional value being attributed to Jain was an ‘exercise alien to law’.

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 that 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 the 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 were 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”.

The ED had arrested the accused in the money laundering case based on a CBI FIR lodged against Jain in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Jain is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.

The 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 money laundering charges.

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