Findings of the investigation into the money laundering case involving Hasan Ali Khan has, for the first time, hinted at the active involvement of a woman. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has come across the name of a woman who had allegedly helped Khan and his associate Kashinath Tapuriah divert unaccounted for money.
The woman called Fatima worked with the SBC Bank in Singapore and had helped Khan open an account in 1997. Khan had opened the account on Tapuriah’s recommendation. SBC Bank was later merged with UBS Bank.
An ED official said Fatima was working under Vishwanathan, who was in charge of SBC Bank in Singapore in 1997. “Vishwanathan and she helped Khan open the account and divert funds,” the official said. He said Tapuriah was in regular touch with Vishwanathan and also paid him commissions for doing various banking-related work including diverting funds. Vishwananthan in turn would ask Fatima to execute all these operations and also paid her part of the commission. The official said this was revealed during the questioning of Khan and Tapuriah.
The only woman that ED had so far been trying to question was Khan’s wife Rheema. “But Rheema’s involvement is solely because of Khan, who was the mastermind,” the official said.
However, in Fatima’s case, the ED suspects she was actively involved in planning the diversion of funds. The ED is trying to get more details on Vishwanathan and Fatima and will also try to question them by making necessary requests through the foreign ministry.
Meanwhile, UBS in its statement to HT said, “UBS does not have accounts for, or any assets of, Hasan Ali Khan and has no knowledge of any of the alleged transactions referred to in recent media reports.”
The statement added, “UBS has provided (the investigating agencies) clarifying information regarding the association between Hasan Ali Khan and UBS. As a responsible corporate citizen, UBS will continue to co-operate fully with the ED and Indian regulators and, as a global entity, seeks to comply with the laws and regulations in each country that it operates in. Nonetheless, we consider any communication with the regulators to be confidential.”