Probe money laundering charges against Amar Singh: HC

Allahabad, May 20 (agencies): The Allahabad High Court today directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate charges of money laundering against Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, saying the probe should commence within two weeks. The court gave the direction while dismissing a petition filed by the former Samajwadi Party general secretary who had challenged an FIR lodged in Kanpur nearly two years ago accusing him of various financial irregularities when the party was in power in Uttar Pradesh.
A Division Bench comprising justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and S S Tiwari asked the ED to commence the investigation “within two weeks” and submit a status report before the court within a month of the commencement of the probe. Singh had moved the court challenging an FIR lodged at Babupurwa Police Station in Kanpur on October 15, 2009 by a local resident Shiv Kant Tripathi under various sections of the IPC, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Money Laundering Act. Tripathi had moved court with the prayer that the issue be probed by the ED. The petitions by Singh and Tripathi were clubbed together and heard by the Bench which had reserved its judgement on March 28.
Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who had argued on behalf of Singh, had described the FIR lodged against his client as “clearly an act of malice and fraud” aimed at “settling political scores” and, hence, was “liable to be quashed”. However, the court said it found “no substance in the submissions that the proceeding is liable to be quashed on grounds of malafide and political rivalries”. The court took a serious note of the allegation made by the petitioner that Singh, when the Samajwadi Party was in power in UP and he was the Chairman of the UP Development Council - a post equivalent to that of a cabinet minister - “had indulged in money laundering business by creating a web of shell companies”.
“Money laundering poses a serious threat to financial system integrity. It may emerge as a parallel economic system within a country controlled by a few. This may destabilise and perish a sound economy”, it said. “We are of the firm view that it is a pre-eminently fit case for exercise of extra-ordinary power and the matter needs thorough probe by Special Cell as the matter has national ramifications”, the court said. Taking note of the fact that “the companies which are alleged to be shell companies are registered in various states”, the court held “the ED being a central agency shall be the appropriate cell capable of carrying out a thorough probe.
“It is, therefore, directed that the entire papers relating to this matter shall be entrusted to the ED within two weeks and immediately after receipt of the papers the ED shall commence investigation. The first status report shall be submitted by the ED within one month after receipt of papers”, the court said. “List this matter in the first week of July on which date the authorities shall appear in person and shall submit the first status report”, the order said.

Punish me if I’m guilty; I’m not above law: Amar

New Delhi, May 20 (PTI): Putting up a brave face after Allahabad High Court ordered the ED to probe money laundering charges against him, Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh on Friday said he should be punished if found guilty as he was not above. The expelled Samajwadi Party leader claimed he had himself written to Union Finance Ministry demanding that allegations against him be probed by Enforcement Directorate. “I had also written to the Corporate Affairs Minister saying that I be probed by the Corporate Affairs Ministry,” he told reporters.
The High Court has asked the ED to probe the matter, taking a serious view of the allegation made by the petitioner that Singh, as the Chairman of the UP Development Council during SP rule in UP, “had indulged in money laundering business by creating a web of shell companies.” Singh said Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has replied to his letter saying that the order of Calcutta High Court will be final in the matter of merger of companies. “And if I have indulged in some scam when I was chairman of UPDC or in PWD or in Power Ministry or had I got some benefit from companies involved in the 2G scam, the UP government should forward the proof to the ED.”
“The Allahabad High Court has done me a favour by referring the matter to ED. At least there will not be a two-pronged inquiry against me, no double-edged sword. I am not above law. I should be punished if I am found guilty,” the former SP leader said. He said the FIR lodged against him at Babupurwa Police Station in Kanpur on October 15, 2009 by a local resident alleges that he gave contracts worth thousands of crores of rupees during his stint.