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Sekhar Reddy Case: ED Arrests Two in Chennai

J Sekhar Reddy produced at a CBI court, whose premises Income Tax department seized 127kg gold and over Rs 170 crore in cash, in judicial custody till January 3, 2017, in Chennai on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

Chennai: The ED on Wednesday said it has arrested two persons for alleged illegal exchange of Rs 6 crore in old notes “in connivance with” sand-mining baron J Sekhar Reddy as part of its money laundering probe post demonetisation.

The agency has identified the two as Mahavir Hirani and Ashok Jain and said they were arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

It added that the investigating officer of the case also recorded their statements and produced them in a court which remanded them in judicial custody till January 11.

“Investigations revealed that using few persons in Chennai like Hirani and Jain, about Rs 6-7 crore were obtained by Reddy, through Paras Mal Lodha, who was earlier arrested by the ED (in Delhi).

“Search on the premises of Jain by Income Tax department had resulted in seizure of Rs 10 crore in old currency notes and about 6.5 kg gold. Further, verifications revealed that Hirani and Jain were involved in exchange of old currency on commission basis after demonitisation,” the agency said in a statement.

The agency had filed a criminal complaint against Reddy and others based on a CBI FIR in the case which was registered after the I-T department first searched his and his associates’ premises early this month.

The I-T department has made the biggest detection of alleged unaccounted income of over Rs 142 crore in this case with the seizure of Rs 34 crore in new notes.

The Reddy case and the other involving Delhi-based lawyer Rohit Tandon are being probed by at least four agencies– the ED, the Income Tax department, the CBI and Delhi Police, and are considered the two most high-profile black money cases being investigated in the aftermath of the notes ban.

Further investigations in the case are ongoing, the agency added.

The ED, till now, has registered at least 22 criminal cases under the PMLA while it has initiated about 150 enquiries under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) across the country, to check black money instances post demonetisation.