In a big development, the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s supplementary charge sheet against Bollywood diva Jacqueline Fernandez revealed that the actress knew of the criminal past of conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar.
The ED also said that the Sri Lankan actress continued to indulge in financial transactions with Sukesh despite knowing his criminal past.
The ED is investigating the money trail in a ₹200-crore extortion case against the conman. It had named Fernandez as an accused earlier this month.
On Wednesday, a Special PMLA court in Delhi took cognizance of the charge sheet filed by the ED against Sukesh. Fernandez has been made co-accused in the charge sheet. The agency has summoned Fernandez to appear at its office on September 26.
Citing the chats of another accused, Pinki Irani, ED, in its charge sheet, stated that there is evidence establishing Fernandez’s knowledge of the criminal history of Chandrasekhar.
The ED said that during its investigation, it was revealed that on February 13, 2021, Fernandez’s hairdresser, Shaan Muthathil, had shared a news article dated February 10, 2020, with the headline ‘Look Out Notice against Actress Leena Maria Paul in CBI case’ with Irani on her WhatsApp.
“In this conversation, Shaan sent messages viz “we saw an article”, “she is also high profile and she knows ppl on the high end. And she got to know the news. She is like is it all just soo fraud. Who is that girl who is in jail (sic),” the ED said.
During the ED’s investigation, it was found that from the chat between Shaan and Angel (Pinki Irani) on February 13, 2021, it was revealed that Shaan has informed Pinki that Fernandez is so sad and even she is not talking to anyone, because she saw so much about Sukesh (Chandrasekhar).
“This reflects that the said article was also shared by Shaan with Fernandez,” the ED claimed.
The ED further said that apart from this article, Fernandez had herself found out about various articles from the internet search reflecting the criminal past of Sukesh and had confronted the same with him. But she “conveniently accepted” the explanation offered by Sukesh and Irani.
“In a news article, it was mentioned that CBI had registered a case again TDP MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao for bank fraud: Days after CBI raid conducted on the premises of TDP MP, people who were associates of Leena Maria Paul approached to bribe and were subsequently arrested; Paul was shown to be the partner of Chandrasekhar.
“It was mentioned in the article that Chandrasekhar was lodged in Tihar Jail in TTV Dinakaran Case. This news article clearly revealed the real identity of Chandrasekhar and his criminal history,” the ED said in its charge sheet.
The ED said that further, the news article that was shared by Shaan with Fernandez “itself mentions the involvement of Sukesh in three criminal cases viz arrest in TTV Dinakaran case related to ECI, arrest of Leena and Sukesh in 2013 Canara Bank fraud case of ₹19 crore and arrest of Leena and Sukesh in 2015 by EOW of Mumbai Police in defrauding people in the name of investments in their bogus firm on the promise of high returns”.
Mentioning how Fernandez ignored Chandrasekhar’s criminal past, it said, “The article uploaded on the internet on February 10, 2020, within one year from interactions, Fernandez engaging with Chandrasekhar also mentions that Sukesh is currently, i.e. as on February 10, 2020, lodged in Tihar Jail.
“What efforts were taken by Fernandez to find out whether he was released from Tihar within one year? Fernandez seemed to have conveniently overlooked or preferred to sideline the fact that he has strong criminal antecedents,” the ED alleged.
“Thus she was aware of the news article shared by Shaan as well as various articles she had searched on Google reflecting criminal antecedent of Sukesh and Leena,” the ED alleged.
“She (Fernandez) consciously chose to overlook Chandrashekhar’s criminal past and continued to indulge in financial transactions with him. Not only Fernandez but even her family members and friends benefitted from their relationship financially,” the ED alleged in its charge sheet.
The ED also claimed that the money laundering probe so far has revealed that the actor is directly or indirectly involved in the proceeds of crime.
The ED alleged that she acquired, possessed and used part proceeds of crime – valuable gifts for herself and her family members in India and abroad – therefore, she committed an offence of money laundering under Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002, which is punishable under section 4 of PMLA.
The ED further alleged in its supplementary charge sheet that during questioning, Chandrasekhar stated that Fernandez has been his close friend and he had given approximately 15 pairs of earrings, five Birkin bags, a few high-end bags from Chanel, Gucci, YSL, clothes and shoes from super luxury brands, Cartier bangles, bracelets and chains.
Chandrasekhar also claimed that he has given Fernandez Hermes bangles, Tiffany bracelets and rings, and watches from Rolex, Roger Dubuis and Frank Muller.
The ED said that Chandrasekhar also stated the value of all jewellery items was approximately ₹7 crore. Chandrasekhar stated that he had paid ₹15 lakh to Advaita Kala at the request of Fernandez, the ED said.
“He (Chandrasekhar) had also bought a horse for Fernandez through ARC Trainer Suresh Taporia in Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai. The horse was bought for ₹57 lakh paid through one Deepak Ramnani to Taporia. Chandrasekhar also paid ₹7 lakh for the allotment of stable and membership of the horse,” the ED said.
During his questioning, Chandrasekhar also stated that he sent $180,000 to Fernandez’s sister in the US through Ramnani to purchase a BMW XS car. He also sent an equivalent amount for the purchase of luxury cars for her brother and parents. On behalf of the conman, Deepak Ramnani sent ₹1.89 crore in Bahrain to buy two vehicles for Fernandez’s parents and $50,000 in Australia for an SUV car for her brother.
The ED said that an investigation conducted under PMLA revealed that Chandrasekhar had arranged an amount to the tune of $172,913 into the account of Geraldine J Walker, Fernandez’s sister based in the US, AUD 26,740 into the account of Warren J Fernandez based in Australia.
The Bollywood actress is the only person named in the ED supplementary charge sheet.
Chandrashekhar was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly extorting around ₹215 crore from Aditi Singh and Shivender Singh, former promoters of pharmaceutical giant Ranbaxy.