ED searches firm in Mumbai in Rajasthan ambulance laundering case

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate today conducted searches on the premises of a firm here in connection with its money laundering probe in the Rajasthan ambulance scam case.

Sources said a special team of the agency from Delhi conducted searches at the corporate and registered premises of the firm identified as Ziqitza Healthcare Limited (ZHL) and the residence of its MD Naresh Jain under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

"We are cooperating with the procedures and we believe that the law will take its course," a ZHL spokesperson said while responding to a PTI query in this regard. The 108 ambulance service contract was awarded to ZHL in 2009-10 by the state government. Agency sources said the the action was carried out as the summons issued by the agency were not being responded to by the firm and its officials.

The agency has taken cognisance of a CBI FIR, already filed in this case, to register its criminal case under PMLA and has named former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan PCC President Sachin Pilot, son of former Union Minister P Chidamabram, Karthi Chidmabaram and Ravi Krishna, son of senior Congress leader Vayalar Ravi.

The CBI has alleged irregularities in the award of tender of ambulance services in favour of a firm Ziqitza Healthcare by deliberately inserting technical specifications and irregularities in implementation of the project which included excess bills claimed by the firm and the payment allegedly directed to the accused.

The ED, taking cognisance of these charges, suspects that the kickbacks paid in this scam were laundered by some people and used to acquire tainted assets. The firm had earlier said it had won this deal in an "open and transparent" manner.

Besides, defence witness and Salman's driver Ashok Singh had told the court that he was driving the car...the other witness (Ravindra Patil) has passed away...in that case, Kamaal's statement is very important, Salman's lawyer argued.

In another development, Public prosecutor and government pleader Sandeep Shinde submitted that there was no need to examine Kamaal Khan as a witness at this stage. "We have proved our case beyond reasonable doubt and the appellant (Salman) was convicted by a Mumbai sessions court," Shinde told the high court.

He also said that at this stage "adverse inference" can-not be drawn since Kamaal Khan had not been examined earlier by a magistrate's court at Bandra and a Mumbai sessions court.

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