Friday, June 21, 2024

Delhi court seeks ED’s reply on Lava chief’s bail plea in Vivo PMLA case

A Delhi court on Saturday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the bail aplication of Hari Om Rai, Managing Director (MD) of Lava International mobile company, in connection with a money laundering case related to Chinese smartphone-maker Vivo.

Last week, the court had extended the judicial custody of accused individuals including the Chinese national Guangwen alias Andrew Kuang by 14 days.

The four accused are Rai, Kuang, Chartered Accountants Nitin Garg and Rajan Malik.

Special Judge Tarun Yogesh of the Patiala House Courts issued a notice to the central agency on Rai’s application and directed it to file its reply by November 29, the next date of hearing.

Appearing for the accused, Advocate Nitesh Rana argued that since the accused was not required for further custodial interrogation, no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

“Accused has no role in money laundering and in the schedule offence. He is just an entrepreneur,” Rana said.

Last time, before the Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala, ED’s application was opposed by Rana.

Rana had argued that the judicial custody cannot be extended “machenically” and “automatically”, and that there must be application of mind.

“In absence of it the accused ought to be released forthwith,” Rana had told the court. The probe agency had arrested the four persons on October 10.

Earlier, a Vivo spokesperson had said: “Vivo has consistently denied the allegations. We will pursue necessary and appropriate legal recourse.”

The court earlier noted that the probe agency was able to make out the case for grant of further custody.

“There appears to be continuity in the stand taken by Enforcement Directorate with regard to extraction of digital data and the accused persons to be confronted with the same. Therefore, considering the settled principles of law and Delhi High Court Rules, I am of the considered opinion that the Enforcement Directorate is able to make out the case for grant of further custody remand,” the judge said.

The court had further directed that the interrogation be conducted at a place having CCTV coverage and the footage be preserved.

“Accused persons shall be medically examined once in every 48 hours during the above period and the accused persons shall also be permitted to meet their advocates for half an hour daily between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. during the said period of their ED custody in a manner that the ED officials are not able to hear their conversations.”

In response to the ED’s allegation that there has been recovery of several incriminating documents, a counsel for Guangwen argued: “The nature of such documents has not been specified and why these are relevant to the investigation was not apprised or substantiated by the ED. It was only submitted that they relate to incorporation of companies which is not an offence.”

Earlier, a source told IANS that the arrests were made after the financial probe agency carried out searches at the premises of the four accused on Monday and recovered cash to the tune of Rs 10 lakh.

The ED action came more than a year after it carried out searches at 48 locations across the country belonging to Vivo Mobiles India Private Ltd and its 23 associated companies such as Grand Prospect International Communication Pvt Ltd (GPICPL), and claimed that it has busted a major money laundering racket involving Chinese nationals and multiple Indian firms.

According to the ED, Vivo Mobiles India Pvt Ltd was incorporated on August 1, 2014 as a subsidiary of Multi Accord Ltd, a Hong Kong-based company, and was registered at ROC Delhi.

GPICPL was registered on December 3, 2014 at ROC Shimla, with registered addresses of Solan, Himachal Pradesh, and Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.

The PMLA investigation by ED was initiated by registering a money laundering case on February 3, 2022 on the basis of an FIR registered at the Kalkaji police station in the national capital by Delhi Police against the GPICPL, its director, shareholders and certifying professionals etc., on the basis of a complaint filed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

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