PMLA case: ED files charge sheet against journalist Rana Ayyub
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a prosecution complaint, which is equivalent to a charge sheet, against well-known journalist Rana Ayyub under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in a Special Court in Ghaziabad, ANI reported. Officials claimed that she reportedly accumulated donations from the general public in the guise of charity by conducting fund-raising campaigns on 'Ketto,' an online crowdfunding platform.
Why does this story matter?
- Ayyub is a well-known journalist and has consistently criticized the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- The central government has been accused several times of using agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED to scare and silence its critics.
- However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified, saying that the government does not interfere in the working of probe agencies.
ED had attached Rs. 1.77 crore of Ayyub in Feb
In February, the ED also provisionally attached bank deposits worth Rs. 1.77 crores belonging to Ayyub in connection with the PMLA case. According to reports, the action was based on a First Information Report (FIR) registered last year by the Uttar Pradesh Police. The FIR had claimed that she received funds for donations from crowdfunding but diverted it for personal expenses.
What were the charges against Ayyub?
The FIR was filed at the Indirapuram police station in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, in response to a complaint filed by Vikas Sankrityayan, the founder of the Hindu IT Cell NGO. Ayyub was charged under Section 4 of the Black Money Act for illegally soliciting money from the public for charity, in addition to the I-T Act and provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Ayyub accused of parking charity funds in separate bank account
The ED alleged in a statement that the money was not used entirely for the purpose for which it was raised. Ayyub reportedly stashed some cash in a second bank account, according to the probe. "Ayyub also created a fixed deposit (FD) of Rs. 50 lakh from funds raised on Ketto and subsequently did not utilize these for relief works," ED had said.
Money attached in 3 different bank accounts
"Accordingly... proceeds of crime are quantified as Rs. 1,77,27,704 and interest generated upon FD of Rs. 50 lakh," a statement from the ED read. The probe agency also said it has attached money in three different accounts in the form of bank deposits.
Funds originally collected for 3 campaigns
According to the complaint, law enforcement authorities told Ketto in August 2021 that the funds generated in Ayyub's campaigns were not used for the purpose for which they were raised and (partially) remain in the accounts of separate campaigns. Ayyub had initiated three fund-raising campaigns: one for slum dwellers and farmers, one for Assam, Bihar, and Maharashtra relief operations, and one for COVID-19 victims.