Money laundering case: ED attaches Rs 1.77 crore belonging to journalist Rana Ayyub

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday provisionally attached Rs 1.77 crore belonging to journalist Rana Ayyub in connection with a case of money laundering.

The ED case is based on an FIR registered by UP police last year, where it was alleged that Ayyub collected a huge amount of funds through online crowd funding platform Ketto in the name of relief work but allegedly diverted the funds.

Phone calls, texts and WhatsApp messages to Ayyub did not elicit a response.

The FIR was registered in September last year at Indirapuram police station in Ghaziabad, on a complaint from one Vikas Sankrityayan. Besides Sections of IPC and IT Act, police also invoked Section 4 of Black Money Act, alleging that she illegally acquired money from the public in the name of charity.

In a statement, ED said its probe makes it “clear that funds were raised in the name of charity in a pre-planned and systematic manner and the funds were not utilised completely” for the purpose with which they were raised.

The probe found that Ayyub allegedly parked some funds by opening a separate current bank account, ED stated. “Ms. Rana Ayyub also created a Fixed Deposit of Rs 50 lakh from funds raised on Ketto and subsequently did not utilize these for relief works,” it said. “She deposited Rs 74.50 lakh in PM Cares fund and CM Relief Fund.”

“Accordingly… proceeds of crime are quantified as Rs.1,77,27,704 and interest generated upon FD of Rs 50 lakh,” it said. The money attached by ED is in the form of bank deposits in three different accounts.

As per the complaint, Ketto, in an email to donors in August 2021, had said that it was informed by law enforcement agencies that the funds (partly or fully) raised in the three campaigns started by Ayyub were not utilised for the purpose for which they were raised and (partly) are still in the accounts of the respective campaigns.

According to Ketto’s email to donors, Ayyub had started three campaigns — for slum dwellers and farmers; relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra; and help to those impacted by Covid-19.

The ED statement said: “Funds totalling Rs 2,69,44,680 were raised on Ketto by Rana Ayyub. These funds were withdrawn in the bank accounts of her sister/father. Out of this amount, Rs 72,01,786 was withdrawn in her own bank account, Rs 37,15,072 was withdrawn in her sister Iffat Shaikh’s account and Rs 1,60,27,822 was withdrawn in her father Mohd Ayyub Waquif’s bank account. All these funds from her sister’s and father’s account were subsequently transferred in her own account.”

The ED stated that Ayyub submitted information and documents of expense to the tune of Rs. 31,16,770. “However, after verification of the claimed expenses, it surfaced that the actual expenses to the tune of Rs 17,66,970,” the agency stated. “Fake bills were found to have been prepared by Ms. Rana Ayyub in the name of some entities to claim expenses on relief work. Expenses made for personal travel by air were claimed as expense for relief work.”

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