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Delhi court extends by 9 days ED custody of businessman in Moin Qureshi money-laundering case

New Delhi: A Delhi court Thursday extended till August 9 the ED’s custody of Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, arrested in connection with the money-laundering case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. The Enforcement Directorate had sought extension of nine more days for Babu’s custody, which was allowed by Special judge Anuradha Shukla Bharadwaj.

Moin Qureshi

The agency submitted before the court that it was investigating two former CBI directors and other officials, and that certain facts emerged regarding the trail of proceeds of crime which needed to be probed. ED said Babu has been evasive and needed to be confronted.

“I am within my rights to arrest and interrogate him (Babu) in custody. At this stage we can make him accused if we find evidence to do so since the trial has not started,” ED’s counsel said. ED also said that during interrogation Babu failed to reveal true account of Rs 1.5 (crore/lakhs) to which the agency needs further answers.

“He has no legitimate business to show and his links are found to be dubious. We have to bring it to the account that how he is linked. He was with us for five days and during the remand, he could not justify the account he had made. He admitted he didn’t have any documentary evidence to prove the payment of the amount,” the agency said. The defence counsel said his client was illegally held in custody and the law prohibited a witness from being treated as an accused.

“They have to prove my statement as a witness wrong and then there will be a separate proceeding by the court for that. They cannot arrest me if my deposition doesn’t suit them,” Babu’s counsel said. “Law has given the witness immunity from prosecution. They made me a witness. I continue to be witness in the main case. If I do not toe their line, they cannot make me an accused. This proceeding is illegal. They made me a witness against Moin Qureshi,” he said.

The court had on Saturday sent Babu to five-day ED custody. The agency is probing the purported purchase of shares worth Rs 50 lakh of a company linked to Qureshi by Babu.

The businessman was earlier called as a witness in the money-laundering case but with this development, he has turned an accused. Babu was arrested from New Delhi on July 26 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the ED had said, adding that he was grilled for a few hours and taken into custody as he was “not cooperating” in the probe.

It is suspected that the amount was paid as a bribe to settle a case. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s special probe team, under then Special Director Rakesh Asthana, had recommended his arrest in its own case against Qureshi and others.

However, in October last year, the Alok Kumar Verma-led agency registered a case of alleged corruption against Asthana and his subordinates, based on Babu’s complaint. Babu alleged that he had paid a bribe to get relief in the case.

On the other hand, officials close to Asthana levelled similar allegations against Verma. The matter reached the Central Vigilance Commission, which initiated an inquiry into the charges and counter-charges. The CVC order dated October 23, 2018, divested Verma of his powers as CBI director under the Prevention of Corruption Act, pending inquiry. Asthana was also stripped of his responsibilities.

Verma was removed from the post of CBI director in January, following the CVC recommendation.

PTI

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