New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has filed a money laundering case against media baron Raghav Bahl for alleged laundering of funds to purchase an undisclosed foreign asset, officials said Friday.
Bahl denied any wrongdoing and said he has timely furnished all records to tax authorities.
Sources in the federal probe agency said an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), a police FIR equivalent, was filed early this week after taking cognisance of an Income-Tax Department prosecution complaint against Bahl and others.
The ED case had been filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ECIR was filed after going into the merits of the I-T chargesheet and the evidences recorded in it, they said.
The tax department had recently filed a chargesheet against Bahl before a court in Meerut under the provisions of the anti-black money law or the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015.
The law was brought by the Modi government to tackle serious cases of black money and has provisions for a 120 per cent tax and penalty on undisclosed foreign assets and income, besides carrying a jail term of up to 10 years.
Bahl acknowledged the Enforcement Directorate action, saying the agency has acted after taking cognisance of the tax department chargesheet filed for alleged non-disclosure of GBP 2.73 lakh (about Rs 2.38 crore) paid towards the purchase of a property in London.
He alleged he was “getting the sense of being hounded for doing no wrong despite paying all taxes honestly and diligently” after the action of the two departments that function under the Union Finance Ministry.
“I also have no defaults when it comes to the debt obligations of myself or my business concerns,” he said in a letter e-mailed to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the chiefs of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the ED.
The letter has been shared with PTI by his organisation. Bahl, in the letter, said he and his wife had made “full disclosures” in their tax returns which address the legal issues in the notices issued by the I-T that claims that the London property was an undisclosed asset created by pumping in black money.
“I had duly provided them (I-T dept) with all materials and proofs necessary to dispel the limited allegations relating to the sum of GBP 2.73 lakh.”
“I have already challenged the show cause notices and subsequent acts in a writ petition before the Allahabad High Court, which will hear the matter on June 25 after receiving reply from the I-T Department,” he said in the letter.
Bahl said he was writing to the FM “to intervene not just on my behalf but to see to it that a necessary and laudable drive to track and punish money launderers and black money hoarders is not allowed to degenerate into diversion of resources to hound innocents”.
“Indeed, such action takes away from the authorities ability to pursue real perpetrators, which would serve to defeat the very objectives of these legislative measures, besides wasting precious judicial time and resources,” he wrote.
The tax department had raided Bahl’s premises in Noida in October last year on charges of “bogus long term capital gains (LTCG) received by various beneficiaries” and other charges of tax evasion.
Bahl is the founder of The Quint news portal and the Network18 group and a known media entrepreneur.