The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday claimed in the Delhi High Court that the Look Out Circular (LOC) was issued against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi to ensure his presence during the probe in the money laundering case against him.
The agency made the submission before Justice A K Pathak, who on October 26 last year had stayed the LOC and had asked Qureshi to return to India by mid-November last year and appear before ED for questioning in the case against him. “The LOC was issued through the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) by the Directorate of Enforcement with view to securing the presence of the petitioner (Qureshi) so that the investigation for offence under money laundering could be brought to a logical end expeditiously,” ED said in its reply filed in the court.
ED’s response came in the backdrop of the plea filed by Qureshi, who has sought quashing of the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) lodged against him by the agency. Central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, who has filed the reply on behalf of ED, said that Qureshi’s plea to restrain the law enforcement agency from arresting or taking any coercive action against him, be dismissed. Earlier, the court had said it was not going to restrain ED from taking any “coercive steps” against Qureshi, who had managed to go abroad despite an LOC issued against him.
It had stayed till November 16 last year the LOC issued against Qureshi by ED to detain him at the entry-exit points in India and directed him to appear before the agency on November 22, 2016.
On October 15 last year, when Qureshi was stopped at IGI Airport following issuance of the LOC, he had shown a trial court order obtained in an income tax case in which he was granted bail and had left for Dubai. ED had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) last year against Qureshi, who has been under scanner of probe agencies for alleged tax evasion and hawala-like dealings.
The agency in its reply has opposed Qureshi’s request to supply him with a copy of the ECIR, saying it would jeopardise the entire proceedings.
“Providing a copy of the ECIR would not be in interest of public and would jeopardise the entire proceedings which have been initiated under the PMLA. The ECIR is not a complaint which can be provided to a person,” ED said. It further said that “in the present case there is a clear apprehension that Qureshi in order to avoid investigation may leave the country”. “All investigation and proceedings have been initiated strictly as per provisions of PMLA,” ED added.
The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on March 21. The court on October 26 last year had told Qureshi “not to behave like Vijay Mallya” and directed him to return to India by mid-November.
In his petition, he had stated that ED had conducted searches at his premises under FEMA and was probing allegations in which he and others were called for questioning on various occasions and they had appeared.