SC asks Centre to inform about its stand on renouncing of Dominican Republic citizenship by Preeti Chandra

 The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to apprise it about their stand on renouncing of citizenship of Dominican Republic by Preeti Chandra, the wife of former Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra who is an accused in a money laundering case.

Preeti also seeks restoration of her Indian citizenship.

Preeti, in pursuance of the Delhi High Court order, had decided to give up her citizenship of Dominican Republic, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had said, adding that she be given the Indian citizenship to ensure that she does not become stateless. The bench had noted that she would apply for Indian citizenship and the application may be processed in accordance with law.

It had extended by two weeks the time for compliance with the HC order for surrendering the citizenship of the Dominican Republic.

“Dominican Republic citizenship you (Chandra) have to give up, because I am also aware of how much money has gone abroad in the Cayman Islands and other things. Fortunately, because of our orders, all this came to light,” Justice Chandrachud had observed.

On Friday, Preeti’s lawyer said, “There has been no response from the Dominican Republic, but we have placed an advertisement in the Times of India stating that she has renounced the citizenship of the Dominican Republic.”

The court then asked Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (EC) and the Centre, to take instructions on the issue and adjourned the hearing.

The top court, on August 4, had refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court order granting bail to Preeti in the case by disallowing ED’s plea seeking cancellation of the relief.

It had said Preeti Chandra was in custody for over 620 days while affirming the high court order and directed her not to leave the limits of the national capital region (NCR).

Prior to this, the apex court on June 16 stayed the high court order and issued a notice to Preeti on the ED’s plea.

The ED had assailed the high court’s order and told the apex court that Rs 7,000 crore of home buyers money was purportedly siphoned off in the alleged scam committed by Unitech promoters.

The ED had registered the case under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Unitech Group and its promoters over allegations that the owners Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra illegally diverted over Rs 2,000 crore to Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

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The money laundering case arose from a number of Delhi Police and CBI FIRs filed by the home buyers against the Unitech Group and its promoters. A charge sheet has already been filed before the trial court.

It has been alleged that funds collected from home buyers for housing projects were not utilised for their intended purpose and that the buyers were cheated and the accused committed the offence of money laundering.

The allegation against Preeti, according to the prosecution, is that she received the proceeds of crime totalling Rs 107 crore in her company Prakausli Investments Pvt Ltd, but did not disclose how the money was used.

On November 7, 2022, the trial court refused to grant her bail citing the “enormity of the transactions and seriousness of the allegations”.

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