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Money laundering case: Court sends Lodha, two others to Tihar Jail

A Delhi court on Monday sent controversial lawyer Rohit Tandon, arrested by Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering probe following alleged seizure of Rs 13.6 crore cash from his law firm as part of an anti-blackmoney operation, to 14 days judicial custody. Besides Tandon, the court sent two other accused — Kolkata-based businessman Paras M Lodha and Kotak Mahindra bank manager Ashish Kumar — arrested in separate PMLA cases, to Tihar jail till January 16 after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said they were not required for custodial interrogation.

All the accused were produced before the court as the custody of ED expired on Monday. Tandon was arrested on December 29 and Lodha on December 21 following raids after the demonetisation of high-value currency. Both Tandon and Lodha moved application seeking bail which will be heard on January 4 and 6, respectively. Additional Sessions Judge R K Tripathi also allowed the pleas of Tandon and Lodha seeking provision of proper medication as both were suffering from various ailments. While Lodha’s senior counsel Rebecca John submitted that he had suffered from mouth cancer and brain tumor, senior advocate Mohit Mathur, appearing for Tandon, submitted that he was suffering from thyroid problem and hypertension.

The court then directed the jail superintendent to provide the necessary medicines and food as sought by the accused. The court, however, rejected the request of Ashish Kumar seeking defreezing of his account for payment of his daughter’s school fee, saying schools are shut so it was not needed at this stage. ED had earlier submitted that as per the FIR, Tandon knew about the details of persons involved in the alleged money laundering racket.

The agency suspected that Tandon was allegedly instrumental in the illegal conversion of demonetized currency worth about Rs 60 crore in purported connivance with Lodha and arrested Kotak Mahindra Bank manager in Delhi, Ashish Kumar. Kumar was arrested on December 28 by ED in connection with its money laundering probe in a case of detection of nine alleged fake accounts with deposits worth Rs 34 crore post demonetization. Tandon’s case pertains to an operation of Delhi Police’s Crime Branch and the Income Tax department earlier this month when they had allegedly seized Rs 13.6 crore, of which Rs 2.6 crore was in new currency, from the law firm that he is associated with. ED had booked him under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on the police FIR. The lawyer was earlier separately searched by the tax department where it was said that he had declared undisclosed income of over Rs 125 crore to the taxman.