In a recent ruling, a Delhi Court criticised the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for its flawed investigation in a money laundering case, prompting the court to demand an explanation from an Assistant Director regarding potential penal and disciplinary actions, according to a report by Bar and Bench.


Special Judge Mohd Farrukh admonished Pankaj Kumar, the Investigating Officer (IO) in the case, for failing to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. The court highlighted the omission of crucial steps, including failing to prosecute individuals despite possessing incriminating evidence against them.


In delivering its judgment on the ED’s complaint under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the court scrutinised the agency’s handling of the case involving accused Mukesh Jain, Shiv Kumar Bhargava, Benu Jain, Nipun Bansal, and the deceased Mohd Nauman.


Special Public Prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta represented the ED, while advocates Deepak Bhadana, Qamar Ali, and RP Shukla represented the accused.


Background on the case


The complaint stemmed from a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case alleging a conspiracy involving the accused to forge and cash fraudulent cheques from a branch of Punjab National Bank in Lucknow between October 2008 and March 2009.


Judge Farrukh concluded that two of the accused, Bhargava and Benu Jain, could not be charged with money laundering since they were acquitted of the predicate offence.


However, the court found Mukesh Jain and Bansal guilty based on substantial evidence. It also highlighted deficiencies in the investigation, particularly regarding financial transactions.


Discrepancies in the investigation


The court observed that a significant sum remained unaccounted for in M/s Analytical Impex Private Limited (AIPL) ‘s bank account, indicating potential money laundering. Similarly, funds transferred to another account operated by Adhiraj Kumar raised suspicions of complicity.


Upon scrutinising the investigation’s shortcomings, the court summoned Pramod Kumar Pandey, Director of AIPL, and Adhiraj Kumar to face trial under the PMLA for their alleged involvement in assisting Mukesh Jain.


While no prosecutable evidence was found against the account holders, the court urged the ED to address the issue promptly.


The court also remarked on the prolonged duration of the investigation, spanning nearly a decade. It questioned the lack of oversight and attributed the delay to bureaucratic inertia.
 

First Published: Apr 02 2024 | 3:59 PM IST

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