Assets worth Rs 7.27 crore of Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez have been attached under the anti-money laundering law in connection with a criminal probe against alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar and others, the Enforcement Directorate said on Saturday.
The federal agency has issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for attaching fixed deposits worth Rs 7.12 crore and Rs 15 lakh cash of the 36-year-old actor as it called these funds as "proceeds of crime".
"Sukesh Chandrashekhar had given various gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore to Jacqueline Fernandez from the proceeds of crime generated by criminal activities including extortion." "Chandrashekhar had put Pinky Irani, his long-time associate and co-accused in this case to deliver the said gifts to her," the ED said in a statement.
In addition to these gifts, it said, Chandrashekhar also gave "funds to the tune of $1,72,913 (about Rs 1.3 crore as per current exchange rate) and AUD 2,6740 (approx. Rs 14 lakh) to the close family members of Fernandez out of the proceeds of crime through co-accused Avtar Singh Kochhar, an established and well known international hawala operator."
The agency said its probe found that Chandrashekhar had "delivered cash to the tune of Rs 15 lakh to a script writer on behalf of Fernandez as advance for writing a script of her web series project." "This cash amount has also been attached," it said.
Investigation with regards to tracing the remaining proceeds of crime is in progress, the ED added. Fernandez is a Sri Lankan national and she has been questioned in this case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) a number of times.
She was also stopped by the ED from flying abroad and was directed to join the probe, after she was intercepted at the Mumbai airport in December last year before she could take an international flight.
The actor made her debut in the Hindi film industry in 2009 and her recent release was the Hindi movie 'Bachchhan Paandey'. The ED has alleged that Chandrashekhar used illegal money to purchase gifts for Fernandez which he had extorted by cheating high-profile people including former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh's wife Aditi Singh.
He is alleged to have conned Aditi Singh and her sister by impersonating as the Union home secretary and also as the Law secretary over phone.
ED said its investigation found that a person "was contacting people spoofing calls to dupe them as the numbers reflecting on their phone were from government officers and he claimed to be a government officer offering to help people for a price."
"Adopting this modus operandi, the said person contacted Aditi Singh, wife of Shivinder Mohan Singh, by impersonating himself as Union home secretary, Union law secretary, officer from prime ministers office (PMO) and other junior officials and extorted more than Rs 200 crore from her over a period of 1 year on the pretext of contribution to party funds."
"The said person was conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar who was running his illegal extortion business from central jail in Delhi (Tihar jail) in connivance with jail officials," the ED said.
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The actor told the ED, in her statement recorded in August and October last year, that she "received" gifts like three designer bags from Gucci, Chanel, two Gucci outfits for gym wear, a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, two pairs of diamond earrings and a bracelet of multi-coloured stones and two Hermes bracelets from Chandrashekhar.
Fernandez further said that she returned a Mini Cooper car that she had similarly received. The agency found in its probe that Chandrashekhar was in "regular contact" with Fernandez since February till he got arrested on August 7 last year (by the Delhi Police).
The ED has arrested a total of 9 people in this case till now including Chandrashekhar, his wife Leena Maria Paul, Pinky Irani, and others and has also filed two chargesheets before a Delhi court.
First Published: IST