Thursday, March 10, 2011

Court raps ED for failing to build concrete case against Hasan Ali

Mumbai, March 9, 2011

At least prima facie, you have to be able to make out some case: Justice Tahaliyani

The Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court on Wednesday rapped the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for not putting forth a proper case against Pune-based real estate agent and stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, while seeking his custody under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

"At least prima facie, you have to be able to make out some case [against Mr. Khan]," Principal Judge M.L. Tahaliyani told the ED.

He adjourned the case till Thursday, asking the ED to "do homework." Mr. Khan will remain in ED custody for another day.

The ED demanded 14 days custody of Mr. Khan stating that he had already admitted some of his crimes. Special Public Prosecutor Niti Punde told the court that the transfer of $ 7 lakh from Sarasin Bank in Basel, Switzerland to Barclays Bank, London, in the account of S.K. Financial Services, United Kingdom, was the subject matter of the remand application.

She said earlier Mr. Khan had denied transferring the funds. "[It was] only on the 15th [February] for the first time that he has admitted a few things. This is a matter which needs further enquiry," Ms. Punde told the judge.

The agency last recorded Mr. Khan\'s statement on February 15 after which he was summoned to be present on March 10. "Initially he had denied his involvement. He said the documents were forged. But now he admits. He won\'t cooperate or give any evidence unless he is in custody," she said.

"Show source"

But Justice Tahaliyani asked the agency to "show the criminal activity." He asked the agency the source of the documents on which the ED was relying. When Ms. Punde said that the source was undisclosed, he asked how can the agency rely on documents from undisclosed sources.

"You show me one of the ingredients of the offences," he said.

Ms. Punde told him that the agency had received the documents of the transaction from the Income Tax department in 2007. "What was the initial deposit?" Justice Tahaliyani asked. When Ms. Punde said that it was $ 7 lakh, he said: "You are wrong. The initial deposit is $ 15 lakh. Thereafter it is $ 24 lakh."

"Have you found out where it has come from?" Justice Tahaliyani asked.

"What case is made against Hasan Ali under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act? Some crime has been committed. You show me the criminal activity," he said.

He further pulled up the ED after Ms. Punde referred to the case of multiple passports acquired by Mr. Khan. She said that he had used the passport extensively for travelling in Europe where he holds accounts. "Did he make money from the passport," he asked, demanding concrete proof.

Ms. Punde said the agency wanted to interrogate him for the transfer of money to the Barclays Bank.

Meanwhile, Mr. Khan pleaded to the court that the ED be asked to submit original documents.

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