ED questions actress Jacqueline Fernandez in money laundering case
New Delhi, Jun 27: Actor Jacqueline Fernandez on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for a fresh round of questioning and recording her statement in a money laundering case linked to alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar and others, officials said.
The agency had in April provisionally attached Rs 7.27 crore funds of the Bollywood actor under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The 36-year-old actor has been questioned two-three times by the agency in the said case earlier.
The actor was issued fresh summons for recording of her statement on Monday as the agency is tracing the remaining proceeds of crime in this case, officials said.
A provisional order was issued against her for attaching fixed deposits worth Rs 7.12 crore apart from Rs 15 lakh cash as the agency called these funds as "proceeds of crime". "Sukesh Chandrasekhar had given various gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore to Jacqueline Fernandez from the proceeds of crime generated by criminal activities including extortion."
"Chandrasekhar had put Pinky Irani, his long time associate and co-accused in this case to deliver the said gifts to her," the ED had then said in a statement. In addition to these gifts, it said, Chandrasekhar also gave "funds to the tune of USD 1,72,913 (about Rs 1.3 crore as per current exchange rate) and AUD 26740 (approx. Rs 14 lakh) to the close family members of Fernandez out of the proceeds of crime through co-accused Avtar Singh Kochhar, an established and well known international hawala operator."
The agency said its probe found that Chandrasekhar had "delivered cash to the tune of Rs 15 lakh to a script writer on behalf of Fernandez as advance for writing a script of her webseries project."
Fernandez is a Sri Lankan national and she made her debut in the Hindi film industry in 2009. The ED has alleged that Chandrashekhar used illegal money to purchase gifts for Fernandez which he had extorted by cheating high-profile people including former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh's wife Aditi Singh. He is alleged to have conned Aditi Singh and her sister by impersonating as the Union home secretary and also as the Law secretary over phone.
The ED said its investigation found that a person "was contacting people spoofing calls to dupe them as the numbers reflecting on their phone were from government officers and he claimed to be a government officer offering to help people for a price."
"Adopting this modus operandi, the said person contacted Aditi Singh, wife of Shivinder Mohan Singh, by impersonating himself as Union home secretary, Union law secretary, officer from prime ministers office (PMO) and other junior officials and extorted more than Rs 200 crore from her over a period of one year on the pretext of contribution to party funds."
"The said person was conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar who was running his illegal extortion business from central jail in Delhi (Tihar jail) in connivance with jail officials," the ED said.
The actor told the ED, in her statement recorded in August and October last year, that she "received" gifts like three designer bags from Gucci, Chanel, two Gucci outfits for gym wear, a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, two pairs of diamond earrings and a bracelet of multi-coloured stones and two Hermes bracelets from Chandrashekhar. Fernandez further said she returned a Mini Cooper car which she had similarly received.
The agency found in its probe that Chandrashekhar was in "regular contact" with Fernandez since February till he got arrested on August 7 last year (by the Delhi Police). The ED has arrested a total of eight people in this case till now including Chandrshekhar, his wife Leena Maria Paul, Irani and others and has also field two charge sheets before a Delhi court.