Published on: November 20, 2023 at 11:33 IST
A Delhi court has requested the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to respond to the bail application of Hari Om Rai, Managing Director (MD) of Lava International mobile company, in connection with a money laundering case related to Chinese smartphone-maker Vivo.
Last week, the court extended the judicial custody of the accused individuals, including Chinese national Guangwen alias Andrew Kuang, by 14 days.
The four accused are Rai, Kuang, Chartered Accountants Nitin Garg, and Rajan Malik.
Special Judge Tarun Yogesh of the Patiala House Courts issued a notice to the central agency on Rai’s application and directed it to file its reply by November 29, the next date of hearing.
Advocate Nitesh Rana, representing the accused, argued that since the accused was not required for further custodial interrogation, keeping him in custody would serve no purpose.
“Accused has no role in money laundering and in the schedule offence. He is just an entrepreneur,” Rana said.
During the previous hearing before Additional Sessions Judge Devender Kumar Jangala, Rana opposed the ED’s application, stating that judicial custody cannot be extended mechanically and automatically, emphasizing the need for the application of mind.
The ED had arrested the four persons on October 10.
Earlier, a Vivo spokesperson had denied the allegations, stating, “Vivo has consistently denied the allegations. We will pursue necessary and appropriate legal recourse.”
The court noted that the ED was able to make a case for further custody based on the extraction of digital data and the need to confront the accused persons with the same.
The court directed that the interrogation be conducted at a place with CCTV coverage, and the footage be preserved. The accused persons were to be medically examined once every 48 hours, and they were allowed to meet their advocates for half an hour daily between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
In response to the ED’s claim of recovering incriminating documents, a counsel for Guangwen argued that the nature of such documents had not been specified, and their relevance to the investigation was not substantiated.
The ED’s action came more than a year after it conducted searches at 48 locations across the country, claiming to have busted a major money laundering racket involving Chinese nationals and multiple Indian firms.
The PMLA investigation was initiated on February 3, 2022, based on an FIR registered at the Kalkaji police station in Delhi against GPICPL, its director, shareholders, and certifying professionals, following a complaint filed by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.