Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), the agency that investigates economic crimes in India, has secured a stay from the Bombay high court on a sessions court order asking it to return the passport of Switzerland-based hotelier Philip Anandraj, a claimed accomplice of Hasan Ali Khan, the Pune-based stud farm owner allegedly involved in laundering $8 billion (about Rs34,750 crore).
The stay order was obtained from the special holiday court of the Bombay high court on 19 August. The high court will hear the case on 27 August.
Absconding: Hasan Ali Khan.
Y.R. Mishra, an advocate representing ED, said: “We sought the stay on the ground that the sessions court has no jurisdiction to decide this application as his (Anandraj’s) passport was seized under the foreign exchange management act.” Mishra claimed that the agency had found details of Khan’s accounts from Anandraj’s laptop.
Anandraj, a co-conspirator in Khan’s case, was not cooperating with the agency’s investigation, an ED official, who did not wish to be named, said.
Anandraj’s advocate, P. Janardhan, declined to comment on the issue as the case is to come up for hearing in the high court next week.
The Mumbai sessions court on 8 August had asked ED to return the passport of Anandraj that had been seized by the agency. The hotelier, denying any involvement in the money laundering case, moved the court against ED on 29 July for the return of his passport.
Mint had reported on 4 August that ED claimed to have in its possession conclusive evidence to prove Anandraj’s association with Khan. “We have found that Khan has given the power of attorney to operate his five lockers with Barclays Bank Plc. in the UK to Anandraj,” a top ED official in Mumbai, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had then said in an interview. “ED is in talks with the UK government to get details of these lockers.”
ED also said investigations revealed that Anandraj was assisting Khan and his family to obtain Swiss citizenship and a work permit, but that these efforts fell apart after Indian authorities launched an investigation last year.
In February, the Mumbai police had booked Khan for holding three fake passports. Following this, Khan filed an anticipatory bail application in the Bombay high court, which was rejected.
On 30 April, a Mumbai court declared Khan a proclaimed offender after he failed to appear for a hearing. Since then, the police have not been able to trace Khan.
Mint reported in a 2 February story that ED claimed to have found $8 billion in the Swiss bank accounts of Khan. ED also said it had evidence of a $300 million transfer to him, via a Chase Manhattan Bank account in New York, from billionaire Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.