Troubles for smuggler-turned-producer Ajit Satam are likely to compound, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated an inquiry against his film financing business. The agency also approached the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court for cancellation of the bail granted to Satam in April 2015 for his alleged involvement in a money laundering case.
Sources from the central agency revealed that Satam, who is now producing movies, is under the ED scanner for money laundering and sandalwood smuggling. Satam had produced Marathi movie ‘Welcome Zindagi’ in 2015 and wants to finance Bollywood movies as well, sources added.
The ED approached the special PMLA court on September 7 seeking cancellation of bail granted to Satam in a money laundering case. The agency claimed that Satam continues to indulge in sandalwood smuggling. The ED approached the special court after the Bombay high court turned down Satam’s anticipatory bail application (ABA) in a case pertaining sandalwood smuggling registered at Uran police station last December, where he was booked for stealing containers of red sandalwood weighing seven tonnes worth Rs 1.08 crore.
The high court rejected Satam’s plea on August 8 observing that “it appears to be international racket of illicit export of Red Sandalwood is operating at JNPT Port Trust and for bursting it effectively custodial interrogation of the present applicant (Satam) is must.”
After rejection of his ABA, Satam approached the special PMLA court seeking return of his passport seized by the investigating agency and permission to travel abroad for six months at any time. He particularly wanted to visit UAE to develop his export and import business, for which Satam furnished an invitation from a company for an event in Dubai. However, the central agency submitted a report stating that the company Satam received invite from was bogus and he was trying to flee India to avoid prosecution.
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Based on the submission made by the ED, the special PMLA court rejected Satam’s plea and observed, “From the entire conduct of the applicant and from the documents placed on record by the applicant, it appears that the application is not genuine, but the applicant any how wanted to travel abroad. There are chances of fleeing away from justice. He will not turn to India.”
Who is Ajit Satam?
A school dropout, Satam began his career as a Customs agent for exports and went on to become the richest red sandalwood smuggler in the country. Though several cases of smuggling have been registered against him since 2000, he came into spotlight after 2011