A court here on Thursday sent an advertising company director, who is alleged to have run the AAP’s campaign during the 2022 Goa assembly polls, to Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s custody for “detailed and extensive interrogation” in a Delhi excise policy-related money laundering case.
Rajesh Joshi, director of Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd, was produced before Special Judge M K Nagpal, who sent him for custodial interrogation till February 13.
He was arrested by the ED on Wednesday.
The court noted the submissions made by the ED’s counsel, who said that Mr Joshi played a vital role in laundering of the proceeds of crime.
The court took note of ED’s submission that Mr Joshi was involved in delivery or transmission of the kickback amount of around ₹ 30 crore, which was received from the south liquor lobby through hawala channels, and which he delivered to co-accused Vijay Nair.
The court noted that his name has surfaced in the statement made by approver Dinesh Arora. Further, he is also alleged to be the director of the entity engaged by the AAP for advertising and other related works for its campaign for the Goa elections.
It also noted that he was involved in making cash payments for the election campaign related works through the company as well as through some individuals, and the payments were made against some fake invoices and out of the above kickback amount, which were the proceeds of crime.
The agency told the court that his detailed custodial interrogation was required to unearth the entire process of laundering of the proceeds of crime and the trail of ill-gotten money.
It further said that some digital or other documentary evidence were also to be put to him.
“Hence, in view of the above and totality of facts and circumstances, the accused is being remanded in the custody of ED for a period of four days i.e. till February 13, 2023 for the purposes of his detailed and extensive interrogation and confrontations and he shall be produced before this court on that day,” the judge said.
He directed that his interrogation shall be conducted at some place having CCTV coverage in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court and this CCTV footage shall be preserved.
The court was hearing the application moved by the ED, seeking the accused’s 10-day custody.
The application was opposed by the counsel appearing for the accused, who stated that his client had earlier joined investigation of this case on four-five occasions, and that there was no need to seek his further custody.
The agency claimed that the links of the advertising company promoter on alleged diversion of “kickbacks” for the Goa assembly polls are under its scanner.
The ED claimed in a charge sheet submitted to the court that a part of the alleged ₹ 100 crore “kickbacks” generated in the scrapped Delhi excise policy were “used” in the Goa assembly election campaign of the Arvind Kejriwal-led party.
It alleged that out of the “bribe” amount of ₹ 100 crore made by the entity called ‘South Group’ of liquor businessmen and politicians, ₹ 30 crore was “handled” by Mr Arora in “connivance” with other accused Abhishek Boinpally, Mr Joshi and a person identified by his first name, Sudhir.
“On following the money trail of part of this amount it has been found that Vijay Nair (AAP communication in-charge arrested in the case earlier) has engaged in making cash payments for campaign-related work through Chariot Productions as well as through individuals.
“So far, the money trail for cash transactions of ₹ 70 lakh payment has been made, which is contiguous with the time of acquisition of these funds as found in the investigation,” the ED claimed in its second charge sheet filed in the case before the court last month.
The agency had also said in the charge sheet that the call record analysis of Mr Arora shows he was in touch with Mr Joshi.
The ED, till now, has filed two prosecution complaints (ED’s equivalent to charge sheet) in this case and has arrested eight persons, including Mr Joshi.
Gautam Malhotra, son of former SAD MLA from Punjab Deep Malhotra, was arrested in the case on Tuesday by the ED.
The ED’s money laundering case stems from a CBI FIR. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other excise officials of the government were named as accused in the CBI and the ED complaints.