New Delhi: A special court on Friday granted bail to Charted Accountant Rajesh Aggarwal, arrested in a money-laundering case, on the grounds that there are “no documents on record” to show that Aggarwal is connected with commission of offence under sections 3 and 4 of the prevention of money laundering act. .
While granting bail, the court stated that except two ledger account entries which allegedly shows that Aggarwal received “commission” there is no other document and also noted that the accountant did not held any meetings with the Surindra Jain and Virendra Jain–the two market entry operators who are the main accused in the case.
Special Judge Naresh Kumar Malhotra considered Aggarwal was not made an accused in the original complaint filed by the ED against Jain brothers and there was reasonable grounds to believe that he is “not guilty” of the offence. “That applicant(Aggarwal) is in custody since 22.5.2017, I am of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that he is not guilty of such offences and there is no likelihood that he would commit any such offence while on bail. Accordingly applicant is admitted to bail…,” the judge said.
The Enforcement Directorate is probing into alleged laundering of over Rs 8,000 crore by two market entry operators–Surendra Jain and Virendra Jain–through a maze of shell companies. While both Surendra Jain and Virendra Jain were arrested in March, the agency arrested a chartered accountant, Rajesh Aggarwal, on May 23.
During its probe, the ED reportedly found that Aggarwal had provided accommodation entries not only for the Jains but for Mishail Packers and Printers. ED has “provisionally attached” a farmhouse owned by RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti in Bijwasan area of South Delhi held in the name of M/s Mishail Packers and Printers Pvt Ltd. It is alleged that it was purchased using Rs 1.2 crore involved in money laundering in the year 2008-09.
According to court records, the facts of the case is that one CA Ravinder Goel had approached Aggarwal with request for arranging cheques for one company–Jagat Projects–in lieu of cash and Goel had told him that Jagat Projects is “desirous” of converting Rs 60-65 crore in the “form of cash” to the “form of cheques”. Goel requested him to arrange this transaction with Surindra Jain and Virendra Jain.
Jagat Projects was incorporated on June 9, 2008 and the company went through a shareholding pattern in different stages. It had allotted its share to 30 companies at 440 per share for a total of 64.70 crore and a month later 29 companies sold their shares which were later purchased by the associates/relatives/promotors/ directors of Jagat Properties only. The court noted that the shares of Jagat Properties was purchased by 30 companies for a total consideration of Rs 1.68 crore thereby “incurring loss by 97.5 percent”. According to the court records, Jain brothers provided accommodation entries of 62.20 crore to Jagat Projects through the 27 companies.
Court stated that as per the case Aggarwal was promised to pay Rs 5 lakh by Ravinder Goel and he received Rs. 1.5 lakh by August 2010. However, the court pulled up ED on why they have not “initiated” any action against CA Ravinder Goel of Jagat Projects for the “reason best known to them”.
The court also noted that the loopholes in the ledger documents. “If we perused the ledger entry recovered from the possession of A1 and A2 (accused Jain brothers), this document is of the year 2008 and a sum of Rs 25 lakh was shown given as commission to the applicant (Aggarwal). It is worthwhile that hand writing of the other entries is different from the hand writing in which name of the applicant is written(in this ledger),” said the court. It added that ED has also relied on the ledger entry dated 10.2.2009 in which it is mentioned that Rajesh Aggarwal “received” commission of Rs 25 lakhs.
However, the court mentioned that Special Public Prosecutor has also informed the court that in the documents–pages 9,10 and 13,14 of the complaint–according to which ” Rs 25 and 20 Lakhs was given as commission on 25.2.2008 to A1 and A2(Jain brothers). Thus when the ED officials are saying that this commission of Rs. 25 lakh and 20 lakh was for A1 and A2 (accused Jain brothers), then there is no strength in the argument of SPP that as per the ledger recovered from the possession of A1 and A2 (Jain brothers) wherein commission of Rs. 25 lac and 20 Lac has been shown in the name of the applicant(Aggarwal).”
The court also noted the submission made by the counsel for the accused that money with respect to which laundering has been alleged is stated to be unaccounted money of Jagat Projects and not the proceeds of crime received out of commission of schedule offence so referred in Schedule A of PMLA.
“The allegations are in respect of transaction held in 2009. In 2009 section 420 IPC(Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property ) was not a scheduled offence of Schedule A. Section 420 IPC has come in Schedule A vide Gaz Indian Notification of 2013,” defence counsel had submitted adding that no case is made out against accused Rajesh Aggarwal.
On this the court said, “…Thus prior to promulgation of notification, there can be no retrospective application of criminal liability for the incident occurred prior to introduction of such liability in the statute book.”