Drug trafficking: Court issues LRs to US, Canada, Hong Kong

New Delhi: A Delhi court has sought the help of authorities in the US, Canada and Hong Kong for collection of evidence and documents in connection with a case of alleged laundering of money globally in a drug trafficking racket involving three Indians.

The court has issued letters of request (LRs) to competent authorities in these countries highlighting the treaties with them for examining the facts and other circumstances concerning the case probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Additional Sessions Judge Neena Bansal Krishna allowed the plea filed by the ED in the case in which the probe agency had named Amritsar residents Gagandeep Singh and Paramdeep Singh, Delhi-based Gaurav Gupta and firm Raja and Co Forex Pvt Ltd in a charge sheet as accused.

The order came after ED's special public prosecutor N K Matta told the court that since investigation in the case has international ramifications and probe has to be carried out at various places in India and abroad, an LR may be made to competent authorities in the US, Hong Kong and Canada with whom India has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).

"I have heard the submissions and perused the record and also the documents which prima facie show that the documents and evidence is required to be collected from the US with whom India has Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty," the judge said.

"Having regard to the investigations which have been so far made and also the submissions made, Letter of Request be issued to the competent authority of USA (and also Hong Kong and Canada) for examination of facts and circumstances of this case and for collection of evidence and documents which may then be forwarded to this court," the court said.

The plea seeking issuance of LRs was filed by ED's Assistant Director M S Yadav in which the agency said that for its investigation against three individual accused, this was needed.

ED had earlier named these four accused, including the firm, in the charge sheet for the offence punishable under provision of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

In its charge sheet, ED had alleged that probe conducted by it showed that Gagandeep Singh, Paramdeep Singh and Gaurav Gupta by laundering the ill-gotten funds have directly and knowingly dealt with proceeds of crime and concealed the same as untainted property.

The three were arrested on September 25 from Amritsar and Delhi in connection with the case.

ED told the court that these accused were involved in the illegal business of fund transfer to and from India to Australia and vice versa through banking channels and hawala route relating to funds generated out of drug money which was in fact proceeds of crime under the PMLA.

It also alleged that money was also transferred to the UK, the US, the UAE, Europe and Hong Kong.

ED had said that Australian Federal Police (AFP) has been conducting probe into activities of global money laundering networks relating to drug trafficking and an LR was received from the Australian authorities for assistance regarding involvement of these accused in the syndicate.

The court had earlier issued an LR to the competent authorities in Australia seeking their assistance in ED's probe for collecting evidence in the case.

It had claimed that Gupta had monthly transaction of Rs 50-60 lakh with Gagandeep and Paramdeep and he was involved in "illegal transaction and dealing with funds to the tune of Rs 365 crore" during September 2013 to September 2014.

The agency had earlier told the court that a case was lodged under provisions of PMLA on September 24 and residence and business premises of the accused were searched in Amritsar and Delhi in which some documents, electronic devices, Rs 77 lakh and assorted foreign currencies were seized.

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