Wednesday, November 29, 2023

ED slaps PMLA on Rana Ayyub on alleged money laundering

The Enforcement Directorate filed a prosecution complaint against alleged journalist Rana Ayyub in a money laundering case. 

The complaint was filed under Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in a special court in Ghaziabad, in relation to the three fundraising campaigns that Ayyub ran on Ketto but didn’t utilise most of the collected money for stated purposes.

The agency took to its official Twitter handle on Thursday to inform the same.

In the prosecution complaint, the ED stated that it had initiated a money laundering investigation on the basis of an FIR registered on 07.09.2021 by the Indirapuram Police Station, Ghaziabad, U.P, under various sections of IPC 1860, Information Technology Amendment Act 2008 and Black Money Act against Rana Ayyub alleging that she illegally acquired funds from the general public in the name of charity by launching fund-raiser campaigns on the online crowdfunding platform ‘Ketto’.

ED also stated that Rana Ayyub is a journalist by profession and received foreign contributions without registration under FCRA. According the statement issued by ED, the investigation revealed that Rana Ayyub launched 3 fundraiser campaigns on ‘Ketto platform’ starting from April 2020, and collected funds totaling to Rs. 2,69,44,680/-, namely:

  • Help in raising funds for slum dwellers & farmers
  • Relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra
  • Help Rana Ayyub & her team to help those impacted by Covid19 in India.

The ED probe has found that all the money transferred to her personal bank accounts, Rana Ayyub used only around 10.8% of the fund she collected for relief work, and the bulk of the money was kept in bank accounts. The statement said, “Investigation by ED revealed that the funds raised on the online platforms were received in the accounts of her father and sister and subsequently transferred to her personal accounts. Ms. Rana Ayyub utilized these funds to create fixed deposits of Rs. 50 lakhs for herself and also transferred Rs. 50 Lakhs in a new bank account. ED investigation revealed that only approx. Rs. 29 lakhs was used for relief work.”

Notably, in July this year, the Delhi High Court had barred the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from taking further steps under Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against alleged journalist Rana Ayub in a money laundering case. Justice Yashwant Varma issued the notice after Ayyub filed a petition against her assets being attached.

ED further states in order to claim more expenses towards relief work, fake bills were submitted by Rana Ayyub. Subsequently, bank balances in the accounts of Ms. Rana Ayyub amounting to Rs.1,77,27,704/- (including FD of Rs. 50 Lakh) were attached u/ s 5(1) of PMLA vide a Provisional Attachment Order dated 04.02.2022.

Alleging Rana Ayyub of illegally raising funds from the public for herself, the EDS said, “Investigation by ED further revealed that Ms. Rana Ayyub illegally raised Rs. 2.69 Crore by launching three online campaigns in the name of charity by cheating the general public donors. These funds were not used for the intended purpose, instead used for creation of assets for herself. Ms Rana Ayyub has tried to project these funds as untainted and thus has laundered the funds received from general public.”

ED also said that Ayyub violated laws by receiving funds from foreign countries without any approval or registration from the government which is required under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.

“ED Investigation has established that Ms. Rana Ayyub had launched the aforesaid campaigns with the sole intention to cheat the general public and acquired Proceeds of Crime in form of FD and balances in bank accounts projecting them as untainted”, the central agency concluded in the complaint.

On Ayyub’s petition, the court served notice to the investigating agency and requested a response within six weeks.

The court, additionally, also restrained Ayyub from disposing of or creating any third-party rights over the attached funds in certain bank accounts.

ED had seized Rs 1.77 crore in Ayyub’s and her family’s accounts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. A few days after the expose, Ayyub alleged in a statement that she was being framed for her “journalism” and that she did not misuse the money.

However, all her claims were debunked by a Twitter user Hawk Eye who was the first to share details of alleged charity fraud last year. The ED has, in its attachment order, said, “Rana Ayyub has cheated the general Public Donors in a pre-planned manner and with the intention to cheat the general public donors.”

The order emphasised that the ‘scam’ started from the time she received the funds, which she did not use for Covid-19 relief work. She instead made a fixed deposit of ₹50 lakhs and transferred the amount to the savings account of her father, and sister through net banking. You can read the details about the allegations of misuse of Covid-19 funds by clicking on the link here.

On March 29, Rana Ayyub was stopped by Indian Immigration officials from boarding a flight to London due to the pending money laundering case against her. On April 4, she was granted permission to travel abroad by the Delhi High Court with the pre-requirement that she divulges details of her travel, contacts and her place of stay.

(This piece is courtesy OpIndia)

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