Controversial Delhi-based meat exporter Moin Qureshi flew out of India to Dubai on Saturday despite a lookout circular (LoC) by the enforcement directorate (ED), leaving the authorities red-faced.
The ED is investigating a money-laundering case against him.
If there is a lookout notice against a person, immigration officials have to detain him and inform the agency, in this case the ED, which would have stopped him from leaving the country.
But the immigration authorities allowed Qureshi to leave the country on the basis of a court order allowing his travel in a separate income-tax case. The immigration authorities have now ordered an inquiry into the goof-up.
The ED is probing Qureshi on charges of money laundering and violation of foreign exchange norms.
The tax authorities had also raided his premises almost three years back. The I-T department had then filed charges in court against Qureshi for not declaring his actual and allegedly ill-gotten income.
The IT department later found evidence of foreign exchange norm violation and money laundering in its probe against Qureshi after which the ED, the nodal agency to probe such matters, came into the picture.
After levelling charges in the form an enforcement case information report (ECIR), the ED issued a secret lookout circular, which was sent to immigration authorities at all exit points to stop Qureshi from leaving India.
Sources in ED said since Qureshi is an influential person, they feared he may leave the country and won’t come back.
In the I-T department proceedings, Qureshi had been asked to approach the court whenever he wished to leave the country.
“In May this year, the I-T department court modified the order and said Qureshi no longer had to seek permission but only inform the court before leaving the country. On Friday, Qureshi informed the court that he was leaving the country for Dubai for a few days,” said a government official on condition of anonymity.
Armed with a court acknowledgement for informing it about his Dubai visit, Qureshi reached the IGI airport on Saturday morning where confusion arose.
The immigration authorities first stopped him as there was an ED lookout notice against him. But Qureshi showed the I-T order that said he had to only inform for outside travel and which he did.
Meanwhile, a team of ED officials was sent to the airport to serve summons to Qureshi to appear before it in the money laundering case, sources said.
“But since the I-T department court order had come after the LoC, the immigration officials allowed Qureshi to leave India,” said an immigration source.
The source said an inquiry had been ordered as the officer in-charge did escalate the matter and check the status of Qureshi with the ED.
“We have sought the documents from immigration authorities based on which Qureshi was allowed to travel,” ED sources said.
Qureshi first hit he headlines when the I-T department raided his premises and seized his phone three years back. Many messages that allegedly showed his proximity to former CBI director AP Singh and some other CBI officials were found in the phone.
It was alleged that even after AP Singh’s departure from the CBI, Qureshi continued to have good relations with other agency officials.
The income-tax department, during its probe, had found Qureshi had 11 bank lockers. These were in the names of his employees and associates but the articles belonged to the businessman.
The ED is yet to file a chargesheet against Qureshi in the money laundering case it registered last year.