PMLA case: ED attaches assets worth Rs 26.65 crore of journalist Upendra Rai

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday attached movable and immovable properties of Upendra Rai to the tune of Rs 26.65 crore in a money laundering case against him.

“The attached assets include high-end cars, flats and investments in mutual funds and bank deposits,” the central probe agency said.

A provisional order for attachment has been issued against Rai and others under the PMLA, a senior officials said.

Why was Upendra Rai arrested?

On the basis of an FIR filed by the CBI against Upendra Rai and others, the ED registered a case in May. Rai, who is in judicial custody, was arrested on June 8 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at the Tihar Jail, moments after he secured bail in a Central Bureau of Investigation case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions.

He was arrested by the CBI on May 3 for allegedly indulging in dubious financial transactions, getting an airport access pass made by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) by furnishing false information, alleged extortion and manipulation of an Income Tax Department case against a Mumbai-bound businessman.

Upendra Rai was found involved in extortion of huge amount of money from different companies and corporate houses. He then layered the ill gotten money and integrated the same into financial system, finally projecting it as untainted money.

In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that going by the value of transactions of over Rs 1 lakh each during 2017, Rai’s accounts received Rs 79 crore while Rs 78.51 crore was debited from it during the period.

Modus Operandi

The proceed of crime so generated was projected as received from different companies in the name of consultancy services provided by him. Upendra Rai sent cash to different companies and asked them to return it to him through banking channels. These transactions were not legal. To give genuine and legal shape to those transactions, he made those companies enter into an agreement with them/their associates for consultancy services, issued false invoices and received payments through banking channels against the cash sent by him.

The agreements and invoices were bogus and were actually used to project the illegally generated money as received bona-fide.

Another modus operandi used by Rai was of receiving huge amount of money through the shell companies/proprietorship. These shell companies are controlled by entry operators. The entry operators were contacted by Upendra Rai from whom he obtained bank entries against the cash given by him or his associates.

Rai has been involved in layering of the cash through several other shell companies to hide its origin and finally integrate it by getting it transferred to his account. After placing and layering through many shell companies/individuals, the money was projected as untainted.

Several properties

Rai used illegally generated money 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 organisations to acquire some other properties. These properties are spread across Delhi, Noida, Lucknow and other places. The details of such nine properties have been identified, which are owned by Upendra Rai and his associates. He also operated many bank accounts in his name and in the name of his wife, brother, sister and other associates and invested the money generated illegally in the fixed deposits and mutual funds.

The amount invested in 20 bank accounts and three mutual funds in the name of Upendra Rai and his accomplishes have been traced out. He acquired high-end Audi-A6, Innova-Crysta and Mercedes-Maybach cars utilising the money generated illegally.

The value of those properties attached are equivalent to Rs. 26.65 crore. The same have been provisionally attached now in the money laundering case against him. The properties attached include nine flats located at Greater Kailash, Hailey Road, Noida and Lucknow, UP. His investments worth Rs 5.62 crore in bank fixed deposits and mutual funds and three luxury cars have also been attached.

(With PTI inputs)