Money laundering case: AAP leader Satyendar Jain prima facie guilty, rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently observed that AAP leader Satyendar Jain, along with his aides Ankush Jain and Vaibhav Jain are prima facie guilty of the alleged offences of money laundering.

A bench of Justice Bela M Trivedi and Justice Pankaj Mithal stated that having regard to the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case, they are of the opinion that the appellants have miserably failed to satisfy the court that there are reasonable grounds for believing that they are not guilty of the alleged offences. The bench added that there is sufficient material collected by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to show that they are prima facie guilty of the alleged offences.

The top court's observation came as it refused to grant bail to Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case, pointing out the failure of the accused to fulfil the twin conditions set out in Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for bail.

Appearing for ED, Additional Solicitor-General SV Raju, argued that the AAP leader exercised effective control over the companies involved in the alleged money-laundering racket, despite relinquishing his position as a director. Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi vehemently refuted these allegations on behalf of Jain, alleging a lack of credible links tying Satyendar Jain to the alleged money laundering activities.

However, the Senior Advocate’s argument did not find favour with the court, which concluded that the AAP leader was responsible for conceptualising the idea of accommodation entries against cash, and was directly involved in the accommodation entries totalling approximately Rs. 4.81 crores.

The Supreme Court highlighted the assistance provided by Ankush Jain and Vaibhav Jain to Satyendar Jain in making false declarations, each declaring an alleged undisclosed income of Rs 8.26 crores, under the Income Declaration Scheme, 2016. The declarations were made to protect AAP leader Satyendar Jain. Although the aforesaid declarations were later deemed void by the income tax authorities, the court mentioned that the appellants could not be permitted to take advantage of their own wrongdoing to mislead the authorities.

The court held that the appellants, Satyendar Jain and his aides had not complied with the twin mandatory conditions laid down in Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Hence, the Delhi High Court's ruling which had been challenged in these proceedings was found to not suffer from any illegality or infirmity.

Subsequently, the apex court denied bail to the three accused and directed Satyendar Jain, who had been granted interim bail on medical grounds to immediately surrender before the special court.

AAP leader Satyendar Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May 2022 on charges of money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.