Money laundering probe: ED grills AAP’s Mohali MLA Kulwant for 7 hours - Hindustan Times

Money laundering probe: ED grills AAP’s Mohali MLA Kulwant for 7 hours

By, Jalandhar
Jan 31, 2024 05:46 AM IST

During a probe, it came to fore that Ludhiana-based drug lord Chhabra invested in major real estate companies, including the one belonging to AAP MLA

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday questioned Mohali Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Kulwant Singh for seven hours after he was summoned by the investigation agency to join a probe in connection with its money laundering investigation related to a drug trafficking case.

Mohali Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Kulwant Singh outside the ED office. (HT photo)
Mohali Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Kulwant Singh outside the ED office. (HT photo)

The MLA, who owns a realty firm Janta Land Promoters Limited, reached the ED office around 2pm in connection with investigation into money trail that came to fore following the arrest of Ludhiana-based drug lord Akshay Chhabra and his aides.

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With assets worth 1,000 crore, Kulwant is the richest MLA in Punjab. He joined the AAP in December 2021 and won the 2022 assembly elections from Mohali.

In November 2022, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Chhabra along with two Afghan nationals for smuggling 2,000-kg heroin into Punjab in connivance with Dubai-based drug smuggler Haji Yusuf.

On November 1 last year, the ED confiscated unaccounted cash worth 4.5 crore during raids at 25 locations, including residence of Kulwant Singh and other locations belonging to Chhabra and his associates in Ludhiana, Mohali, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Jalandhar in Punjab and Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan, under the PMLA following money trail in illegal drug trade case.

The raids were conducted on premises owned by top-notch realtors and liquor barons as both ED and NCB suspected Chhabra of investing drug money into real estate and liquor companies.

“During investigation, it came to fore that Chhabra had invested drug money in major real estate companies, including one belonging to the AAP MLA,” an official said.

During the search, cash of more than 4.5 crore, digital devices and various incriminating documents related to money trail and property transactions were also recovered and seized.

The AAP MLA came out of the ED office around 9pm. He refused to talk to media.

Cross-border drug smuggling racket

Both the NCB and ED were carrying independent investigations into the cross-border drug smuggling racket worth more than 300 crore.

Even in the NCB’s probe, it was established that Chhabra amassed money by running cross-border drug racket and established real estate companies in Mohali, Zirakpur, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

Investigations revealed that Chhabra, who used to work in a chemist shop in Ludhiana, become Punjab drug kingpin in three years as he managed to procure heroin and other raw material from Afghanistan and Pakistan before he was nabbed by the NCB.

An official said Chhabra, a son of tea vendor, had connections with not only drug peddlers, including Dubai-based Haji Yusuf, but companies who managed to procure contraband for him through three channels — via Jammu Kashmir, Delhi and Mundra Port, Gujarat.

Chhabra used to smuggle raw material from other countries and the Afghan nationals, pharmaceutical experts, used to make synthetic heroin at two laboratories located in Ludhiana, the investigation has revealed.

During investigation, the NCB found that Chhabra had 49 high-end properties across Punjab.

The NCB had recently arrested his brother-in-law, Sunny Verma, who used to handle his cash transactions, and recovered 79,000 Euros, suspected to be proceeds from drug trafficking activities and 2.5 kg gold bullion from him.

Following his arrest by the NCB, Chhabra disclosed that between 2020 to 2022, he had delivered around 2,000 kg heroin, received from Haji Yusuf, and earned around 60 crore.

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    Navrajdeep Singh is a senior staff correspondent. He covers agriculture, crime, local bodies, health and education in the Patiala district of Punjab.

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