11 years later, PMLA court frames charges against Hasan Ali Khan
Over 11 years after his arrest on money-laundering charges, a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court on Tuesday framed charges against Pune-based stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan and set the stage for starting his trial, at a time when the 70-year-old is critically ill and hospitalised.
Khan has been charged under sections 3 (money laundering) and 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the PMLA 2002 and therefore faces punishment between three and seven years of imprisonment.
Special PMLA judge M G Deshpande framed charges against Khan through videoconferencing, in the presence of his counsel, advocate Prashant Patil. Khan pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried for the charges.
Patil urged the court to expedite the trial and, if possible, to conduct the hearing on a day-to-day basis. The court considered the request and asked the prosecution to bring the first witness as soon as possible.
The enforcement directorate (ED) arrested Khan on March 7, 2011, about four years after the income tax department conducted searches at his residences in Mumbai and Pune on January 5, 2007. One of the documents found at his premises revealed that USD8 billion (about ₹36,000 crore) was about to be transferred from one of his Swiss bank accounts by January 15, 2007.
In order to stop the suspicious transfer, a team of ED officials went to Switzerland with a letter rogatory issued to the Swiss authorities. The Swiss authorities, however, claimed that the document mentioning the high-value transfer was forged and sought details of the transaction to enable them to act on the Indian request.
Barely four days after his arrest, the special PMLA court granted Khan bail on March 11, 2011, but the order was stayed by the Supreme Court on March 17 that year.
On May 6, 2011, the ED filed a chargesheet against Khan and Kashinath Tapuriah, who allegedly operated one of his foreign bank accounts. Khan was booked under sections 3 and 4 of the PMLA, primarily in view of the two transactions – he had transferred USD7 lakh from Bank Sarasin, Switzerland, to the account of SK Financial Services in Barclays Bank, UK, and he had received USD93 million in his bank account held with SBC Singapore.
The trial of Kolkata-based businessman Tapuriah, however, abated, as he expired on August 15, 2017.
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