Raghav Bahl, the founder of Network18 and Quint news portal, has been accused of money laundering in a case filed by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday.
The ED case is based on an earlier charge-sheet filed by the Income Tax Department against Bahl under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) Act. The I-T department has alleged that Bahl did not disclose funds to the tune of GBP 2.73 lakh (approximately Rs. 2.45 crore) used to buy a London property. The charge has been denied by Bahl.
"The agency has registered a case against Bahl on the basis of the IT department reports regarding money laundering," a senior ED official was quoted by news agency IANS.
In Oct 2018, the Income Tax Department(ITD) had searched the premises Bahl in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion. A team of sleuths raided the residence of Bahl in Noida looking for documents and other evidence related to the case under probe. The searches were also conducted at the premises of a few other people as part of the ITD action to probe tax evasion by a set of business professionals.
News portal Newslaundry, quoting ITD officials, reported allegations of money laundering by investing in a Uttar Pradesh-based penny stock company. IT officials also alleged that he indulged in money laundering and evaded long-term capital gain tax in the process.
In a communication sent to PTI, Bahl acknowledged the ED action. He alleged he was “getting the sense of being hounded for doing no wrong despite paying all taxes honestly and diligently”.
“I also have no defaults when it comes to the debt obligations of myself or my business concerns,” he said in a letter emailed to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the chiefs of the CBDT and the ED.
Bahl, in the letter, said he and his wife had made “full disclosures” in their tax returns which address the legal issues in the notices issued by the I-T Department.
“I have already challenged the show cause notices and subsequent acts in a writ petition before the Allahabad High Court,” he said in the letter.
Bahl said he was writing to the Minister “to intervene not just on my behalf but to see to it that a necessary and laudable drive to track and punish money launderers and black money hoarders is not allowed to degenerate into diversion of resources to hound innocents”.
“Indeed, such action takes away from the authorities ability to pursue real perpetrators, which would serve to defeat the very objectives of these legislative measures, besides wasting precious judicial time and resources,” he wrote.