Friday, March 11, 2011

Court grants bail to Hasan Ali

Mumbai, March 11, 2011

In a huge embarrassment for the Enforcement Directorate, a local court on Friday rejected its plea seeking the remand of Hasan Ali Khan for his custodial interrogation in a money laundering case and granted bail to the controversial businessman.

"No material evidence has been presented by the ED that shows any scheduled offence has been committed by Khan," Principal Sessions Court Judge M. L. Tahaliyani observed while rejecting the agency's remand application.

The judge, however, set some conditions including barring the Pune-based stud farm owner from leaving Mumbai for five days and directed him to appear before the ED officials every day.

The ED said it will challenge the order and move a superior court.

Mr. Khan, alleged to have stashed over USD 8 billion in UBS bank in Switzerland and made other illegal transactions abroad, was arrested on Monday midnight under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and has been in ED custody since then.

Mr. Khan is facing charges of massive money laundering and tax evasion.

Soon after the court dismissed ED's plea and ordered Mr. Khan to be released on bail, the investigative agency's counsel Rajiv Awasthi said they would move a superior court against the order after going through the full text of the judgement.

"We have overwhelming evidence (to show Khan's culpability in money laundering) but probably the court failed to appreciate those. We will appeal before a superior court," Mr. Awasthi told reporters.

Asserting that ED's investigation in the case was proceeding "effectively", Mr. Awasthi said, "We have received some links....Hasan Ali's remand was needed to bridge some gaps in the probe."

The court had on Wednesday severely rebuked the Enforcement Directorate over its handling of the money laundering case, observing it had not been able to make out even a single case against the businessman to seek his custody and asked the agency to do its "homework".

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