The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday opposed before the Delhi High Court the bail plea of jailed AAP minister Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case being probed by it.
Jain, arrested on May 30 last year by the agency, is accused of having laundered money through four companies allegedly linked to him.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, representing ED, argued before Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma that the AAP leader’s stand that there are no proceeds of crime can be “demolished” by the material on record which also shows that he was “in the thick of things”.
In its reply filed in the court, the agency said that the bail plea of Jain, a sitting minister, should be dismissed as his release would obstruct further investigation and there is CCTV footage from Tihar jail, where he is in judicial custody, to show that he is an “influential person” who may influence witnesses and frustrate the proceedings.
ED had arrested Jain in the money laundering case based on a CBI FIR lodged against Jain in 2017 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
“Money laundering is crystal clear. Their case is that Satyendar Jain has nothing to do with it. I have to establish that Satyendar Jain was in the thick of these things,” ASG Raju argued before the high court on Monday.
Raju claimed that there is a statement under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by Jain which also supports the agency’s case and there are proceeds of crime of over Rs 4 crore.
“I have admission of Satyendar Jain which shows he is a beneficiary (of the companies),” said the senior law officer, adding that the statement of an auditor connected with the companies in question has also established money laundering.
In its reply filed in the case, the ED said that under PMLA, it cannot be said that bail is the rule and jail is the exception and when a public servant commits an economic offence it erodes public confidence as well and has a larger impact on society.
The agency asserted that during investigation, it was found that the “modus operandi” in the present case involved “transferring cash from Delhi to Kolkata through Hawala operators and in lieu of cash, accommodation entries were layered and received from Kolkata-based shell companies into companies owned by applicant (Jain) and agricultural lands were purchased from these funds. Applicant has denied having any role in taking accommodation entries in his companies”.
The reply further emphasised that there is “clear cut evidence” of Jain influencing co-accused Vaibhav Jain and Ankush Jain in Tihar jail.
Join LAW TREND WhatsAPP Group for Legal News Updates-Click to Join
The “special treatment extended by the prison authorities to Satyendar Kumar Jain shows that the ED’s apprehension throughout was correct that being a former minister of prisons and health he is receiving favourable treatment from the prison officials including the prison doctors”, it added.
“The applicant (Jain) continues to be a sitting minister in the Government of NCT Delhi and has been influencing witnesses through his incarceration. The above facts are borne out from the CCTV video footage of Tihar jail premises submitted by the Directorate before the PMLA special judge,” the reply said.
“There is high likelihood that the applicant may attempt to influence witnesses as is also borne out from the video footage where the applicant can be seen interacting with the co-accused on a regular basis. There is a high likelihood that the applicant once released would seek to frustrate the proceedings under the Act,” it added.
The ED also submitted that Jain has been non-cooperative with the probe and has given evasive replies.
The court listed the case for further hearing on February 21.
Satyendar Jain has earlier submitted that no case is made out against him and he has fully cooperated in the investigation and there is no requirement to continue his incarceration after filing of chargesheet.
The AAP leader has challenged the trial court’s November 17, 2022 order by which his bail plea was dismissed on the ground that he was prima facie involved in concealing the proceeds of crime.
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 the income of these three companies was untainted one”.
In 2022, the trial court also took cognisance of the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) filed by the ED against Jain, his wife and eight others, including the four firms, in connection with the money laundering case.