Enough material against Naresh Goyal, wife to show their complicity in bank fraud case: Court

There is sufficient material at this stage to prima facie show involvement of Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal and his wife Anita in a money laundering case linked to an alleged fraud of Rs 538 crore at Canara Bank, a special court here noted while taking cognizance of the Enforcement Directorate’s chargesheet against the couple in the case.

Besides the Goyals, the central probe agency has named four companies –Jet Airways (India) Ltd (JIL), Jetair Pvt Ltd, Jet Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Jet Airways LLC, Dubai — as accused in the case.

M G Deshpande, the special judge hearing cases filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), took cognizance of the chargesheet on November 1, while a detailed order was made available on Friday.

The court also asked the Goyals to remain present before it on November 9.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Goyal on September 1 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) following a long session of questioning at the central agency’s office here. The 74-year-old businessman is currently in judicial custody and lodged at Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai.

The money laundering case stems from an FIR of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against Jet Airways, Goyal, his wife Anita and some former executives of the now grounded private airline in connection with an alleged Rs 538-crore fraud at state-run Canara Bank.

The court order noted the allegations made in the complaint (chargesheet), facts revealed from the statements recorded under the PMLA and bank statements prima facie indicate Canara Bank’s branch at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in suburban Mumbai had extended a loan Rs 848.86 crore to JIL, of which Rs 538.62 crore is currently outstanding.

The investigation carried out so far by the ED has revealed that public money worth Rs 5716.34 crore, obtained from a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India (SBI) and Punjab National Bank (PNB), is the total proceeds of crime (POC) generated from criminal activities related to the scheduled offence by JIL and its promoters.

Copies of documents attached with the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) “prima facie indicate there is huge diversion and siphoning off funds” by the accused, the court said.

It said the role attributed to accused No. 1 (Naresh Goyal) and No. 2 (Anita Goyal) for themselves and their companies is prominent from the complaint, copies of documents and statements recorded under the PMLA.

“Prima facie this much material is sufficient to hold the involvement of the accused persons in the offence alleged against them,” the judge noted.

Various tables referred in the prosecution complaint clearly indicate flow and trail of money and further demonstrate how “tainted money” (proceeds of crime of POC) has been tried to be projected as untainted, said the court.

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“Therefore, the materials with the prosecution complaint prima facie indicate how the POC was generated by the criminal activity related to the Scheduled Offence which is the first qualification to initiate process against accused persons (under PMLA),” it remarked.

Under the PMLA, the ED can initiate a probe only when there exists a prior FIR (registered by another investigating agency) of a scheduled offence — also called predicate offence — against a person or an entity.

Secondly, the money trail clearly indicates how the POC was placed, layered and integrated in order to qualify for attracting basic ingredients of the PMLA, the court added.

“In this way, at this stage, there is sufficient material to prima facie hold involvement of accused No. 1 and 2 for themselves and their companies accused (No 3 to 6) in order to take cognizance and issuance of process against them,” the court said.

It then issued summons to the accused, directing them to remain present before it on November 9.

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