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ED moves to build watertight case against Lalit Modi

Seeking to nail Lalit Modi and others in a money laundering case relating to IPL, the ED has now added to its FIR various charges of FEMA violations detected against them in conduct of the T-20 league to prepare a “watertight” case.

The inclusion of forex violation charges, “prima facie established” against them, in the criminal FIR lodged in connection with alleged money laundering, would bolster the Enforcement Directorate’s case as it would lend weight to its Letters Rogatories (request for assistance sent by a court in one country to the other).

Authorities in foreign countries hardly render any assistance in civil cases like those of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations but take seriously criminal contraventions, as in the case of money laundering.

Besides Lalit Modi, ex-BCCI President N Srinivasan and over a dozen other individuals and entities have been slapped with forex violations charges and the cases are now under adjudication.

Sources privy to the development said ED sleuths have found instances connecting the trail of illegal hawala funds generated in at least 16 FEMA “contravention” instances in the IPL to the “proceeds of crime” of money laundering.

The agency is probing the IPL and its executives under the stringent anti-money laundering laws under its criminal FIR registered in 2012 after taking cognizance of a cheating complaint filed by Srinivasan against Modi and half a dozen others with the Chennai police.

Sources said the move will help sleuths make a “watertight” case against them. It would also help in preparing international legal cooperation documents against the accused including Modi, whom the ED has been wanting to join the investigations for long.

The ED FIR registered at its zonal office in Mumbai, accessed by PTI, shows the agency has invoked the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) along with section 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC to probe if BCCI-IPL and the exchequer had been cheated in the award of telecast rights for the IPL in 2009.

While the agency had then registered a PMLA case against Modi and six others, sources said their numbers could be larger now.

The central probe agency has also begun an exercise to identify movable and immovable assets of these over a dozen accused, in both FEMA and PMLA cases, so there assets could be attached in future, if need arises.

The most important among the 16 FEMA cases relates to the media rights deal where the agency slapped show-cause notices against Modi and 13 others in February this year.

The ED, in its notice, has accused Modi of sending “fraud” emails and being a suspect beneficiary of Rs 125 crore illegal funds in connection with the Rs 425 deal for grant of media rights of the T-20 tournament in 2009.

Modi, who has made the UK his home since 2010, is currently embroiled in a controversy over obtaining travel documents in that country with the help of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and for his similar dealings with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

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