PMLA court refuses to discharge former Topsgrup MD, Pratap Sarnaik’s aide
The special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court on Wednesday rejected the discharge pleas filed by Marath Sashidharan, former managing director of Topsgrup, and Amit Chandole, an aide of rebel Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, after the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) objections
The special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court on Wednesday rejected the discharge pleas filed by Marath Sashidharan, former managing director of Topsgrup, and Amit Chandole, an aide of rebel Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, after the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) objections.
The duo, who are in judicial custody, had sought discharge on the grounds that the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai police had closed the predicate offence in which the Topsgrup management was booked for misappropriation of funds.
The ED said that the order accepting the closure report could be challenged and the period of limitation to challenge the order was yet not over. “It would be inappropriate to consider that the accused is finally discharged or acquitted of the scheduled offence as the C-summary report (EOW closure report) cannot be treated to have attained finality. Therefore, the PMLA case should be considered active until such limitation period was over.”
Defence lawyer Kushal Mor, seeking interim bail for both, contended that the order could not be challenged as the complainant had specifically said that the case was filed out of confusion and a misunderstanding and that he would not challenge the order accepting the closure report.
The court, however, said the order attains finality only after the appeal period of 90 days is over. Considering the reply filed by the ED, the court rejected the pleas.
A metropolitan magistrate court last week accepted the closure report.
The police had registered a case against Topsgroup Services and Solutions Limited, and its promoters - Rahul Nanda, Randhir Nanda, Sunita Nanda, Rashi Nanda, Ranita Nanda, Ayush Pasari and M Shashidharan - on a direction of the magistrate court who acted on a complaint filed by former CEO Ramesh Iyer.
Iyer who joined the group as director in 2005 became CEO before he was removed in October 2020. He then filed a complaint against the group alleging misappropriation of funds. He claimed that he and Amar Panghal were appointed as directors to take the blame.
The ED, meanwhile, initiated a money-laundering probe and filed a chargesheet (prosecution complaint) against Topsgroup, Rahul, Rashi, Shashidharan and Chandole.
The agency alleged that Rahul cheated Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) by rotating money and used it for his personal gain. The ED also claimed that Chandole had played an active role in the contract between Topsgrup and MMRDA and acted as a conduit for Sarnaik.