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FERA haunts Chandraswamy

FERA cases return to haunt Chandraswamy

india Updated: Sep 04, 2006 03:49 IST

The Enforcement Directorate's decade-long struggle to bring FERA violation cases against controversial Godman Chandraswamy to their logical conclusions has seemingly begun to fructify, with the courts having lately framed charges against him in three of the 10 pending cases — one of these involving fashion designer Bina Ramani.

Charges are likely to be framed in two other cases, while other cases are being vigorously pursued, an ED official said.

Court hearings in two cases are scheduled to begin on a day-to-day basis on December 4 and January 8 respectively — the first of these relating to the charge that the godman acquired $1,50,000 US from one G.T. Surajbali of Surinam in violation of Section 8(1) of the FERA Act, 1973.

Being pursued since 1997, the other case pertains to the charge that Chandraswamy acquired $2,00,000 US from one Jagdish Prashad of Surinam and deposited it in the account of a New York-based company, Maggi International, owned by Bina Ramani.

As the ED's chargesheet states, Ramani subsequently issued four blank cheques of $25,000 US each on the instructions of Chandraswamy, gave them to one Harish Aggarwal, and distributed $22,000 US to various parties in New York. She invested the balance $78,000 US under the instructions of the accused in acquiring 25 per cent share in a building at 306, Fifth Avenue, New York.

During interrogations by ED officials, Ramani had further stated that — on the instructions of Chandraswamy — she had withdrawn investments in the aforesaid building later, which had accumulated to $130,000 US by then, and asked her cousin Sunder Thadani to transfer the amount to one Ernie Miller of Canada, who was said to handle the godman's financial dealings.

Other pending FERA cases includes one in which he has been accused of having illegally acquired $50,000 US from one Baidnath Missir of Surinam. Another case pertains to the charge of the illegal acquisition of 2,00,00,000 Thai Bhat from one Thai-national Som Chai Chawla. Also being pursued is the case registered by US national Lakhubhai Pathak, now dead, who had charged the godman with having cheated him of $1,00,000 US.

First Published: Sep 04, 2006 03:49 IST