ED files chargesheet in Upendra Rai case

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New Delhi : The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday filed a chargesheet in connection with its ongoing probe into a money laundering case against senior journalist Upendra Rai, the agency said.

While filing the chargesheet, the ED informed the Patiala House court that Rai laundered over Rs 29.58 crore by adopting different modus operandi and was involved in "extortion of the huge amount from different companies and corporate houses".

The agency alleged that Rai took "undue advantage of his connections with several government officials" to gain access to confidential information available with them about the penal proceedings being contemplated against various defaulters, at times in advance.

"After having received references from his connections in government agencies in respect of different prospective entities, Rai used to gather confidential information to finally blackmail them to extort money. He threatened to tarnish their image by publishing adverse reporting about them in media. After bringing them to his terms, he forced them to execute a sham consultancy agreement with him to legitimise and project the proceeds of his crime or properties involved in money laundering as untainted money."

Owner of Printlines Media Group and formerly employed with Tehelka, Rai forced different companies to transfer money to his account through banking channels against the cash he supplied to those companies.

"Rai entered into agreement for consultancy services and issued false invoices to give genuine and legal shape to those transactions. He further received huge amount of money from the shell companies. The individuals and shell companies exist only on paper. They are not engaged in an operable business.

"These shell companies/individuals are controlled by entry operators. Rai received huge amount through the entry operators from the shell companies in his account or in the account of his family members against the cash provided by him," said the chargesheet.

By adopting such modus operandi, the chargesheet said, Rai projected the tainted money as untainted and "laundered an amount of Rs 295,809,570 and used it to acquire various properties in his or in the name of his family members and also used it to repay the loans taken from financial organizations to acquire some other properties".

In connection with the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the premier investigating agency, last month arrested a Bureau of Civil Aviation Security official Rahul Rathore and the Chairman and Managing Director of aviation firm Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd Alok Sharma, after the agency found their involvement in the commission of crime committed by Rai, currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar Jail under judicial custody.

Rai was arrested by the CBI on May 3 for dubious transactions of over Rs 100 crore in his bank accounts during 2017-18 and for using false information to obtain access to sensitive areas through Aerodrome Entry Pass (AEP) for all airports in the country. He was later arrested by the ED on May 8.

In its case filed on May 1, the CBI named Rai, Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd, its Chief Security Officer Prasun Roy, some unidentified public servants of BCAS and others.

On May 5, the CBI filed the second FIR against Rai alleging that he took money from a Mumbai-based real estate company to settle an issue with income tax and adverse media reporting.

Rai is also accused of using false information to obtain a pass to access sensitive areas in airports across the country and is alleged to have committed the offence in connivance with the officials of aviation company Air One Aviation Pvt Ltd and some public servants of BCAS.