In a reply to adjudicating authorities regarding her involvement in the extortion case involving alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, Bollywood actor Jacqueline Fernandez has cried foul and said she is just a victim of the modus operandi adopted by the main accused Chandrasekhar.
On August 17, Fernandez was named an accused in the supplementary chargesheet filed in a Delhi court by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the money trail in the extortion case involving Chandrashekar. Police had arrested Chandrashekar for allegedly extorting around Rs 215 crore from Aditi Singh and Shivender Singh, who are former promoters of pharma major Ranbaxy.
As per sources, following the order dated April 28, certain movable properties belonging to the Bollywood actor were frozen. The moveable properties were in the form of bank fixed deposits, and are worth Rs 7,12,24,767.
The ED had said that as Fernandez is a “foreign national, there is a likelihood that she may leave the country and Proceeds of Crime (POC) may not be available for confiscation at the time of completion of trial”.
Fernandez is a Sri Lankan national and made her debut in the Hindi film industry in 2009.
The actor in her reply, which was filed through advocate Prashant Patil, has clarified that the mentioned fixed deposits (FDs), attached vide the impugned order, had no nexus or links with any crime, nor were they created by using the alleged proceeds of crime.
According to the reply, the FDs were created from the actor’s “own legitimate income and much before the crime was committed or “even knowing that the main accused, Chandrashekhar, existed in this world.”
The actor also handed over a chart along with her reply that mentioned the source of the money, which was fixed. The actor has claimed that most of the maturity amounts are from earlier deposits, which are not even linked to the extortion case. These deposits have been made between August 2021 and January 2022, the reply has highlighted.
On her part, Fernandez has said that she has always cooperated with the investigation agencies and attended all the case dates, where she was summoned. “She has handed over all the information to the best of her ability to the ED. The agencies have failed to appreciate that she was cheated and conned into this matter. She is a victim of the modus operandi adopted by the main accused Chandrasekhar,” her reply highlighted.
She added that even if the entire prosecution case is taken to be true for the sake of arguments, “even then, no case is made out against her under the scheme of PMLA or any other law in force. This is a case of malafide prosecution”.
The reply further added that the actor is being treated differently by the agency while she stands on the same footing as other victims of Sukesh Chandrashekhar, like actor Norah Fatehi.
“It is surprising that like Fernandez, some other celebrities, notably, Norah Fatehi were also conned by Chandrashekhar. But in the present case, other celebrities involved, who had received gifts from Chandrashekhar, have been made key witnesses in the case, whereas she is being dragged as an accused. This clearly shows a malafide, motivated and biased approach on the part of the investigation authority, which cannot be ignored.”
In its first chargesheet in the case, ED had explained how Chandrashekar used the extortion money. Later on, in its supplementary chargesheet, the ED mentioned that the actor received expensive gifts worth over Rs 5 crore from Chandrashekar, which were supposedly bought from the swindled money.
Terming the actor as an accused, ED had alleged that “the actor was aware that those gifts had been bought from the proceeds of the crime."
In a statement, ED had stated: "Sukesh Chandrasekhar had given gifts worth Rs 5.71 crore to Jacqueline Fernandez from the proceeds of crime generated by criminal activities including extortion. Pinky Irani, Chandrasekhar’s associate and co-accused in this case, had delivered the said gifts to the actor."
According to ED sources, Fernandez received a horse worth Rs 52 lakh and a Persian cat worth Rs 9 lakh. She also got high-end clothes, designer bags from luxury brands Gucci and Chanel. Besides, ED has alleged that Chandrashekar handed over a huge amount of money to Fernandez’s family members. The conmon had also paid a huge sum of Rs 15 lakh to a scriptwriter for writing a web series on behalf of Fernandez.
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