The Enforcement Directorate on Friday filed a case of money laundering against media entrepreneur Raghav Bahl, PTI reported. The case is based on a chargesheet filed by the Income Tax department for alleged non-disclosure of funds of around Rs 2.45 crore used to purchase a property in London.
The case was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Bahl, who had released a press statement last week denying the charges, wrote to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, saying that he is “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 wrote.
“I have, as far back as May 13, 2019, through my authorised representative, provided full details relating to the amount of GBP 2.73 lakh paid to buy a property in London,” Bahl wrote in the letter. “I clarified these details after the Income Tax Department claimed that I allegedly failed to disclose information about this payment, as a result of which they have presumed the amount to arise from proceeds of undisclosed income [black money], as per two show cause notices served to me by email in the afternoon of May 1, 2019.”
In the letter, Bahl said he and his wife Ritu Kapur have made “full disclosures” in their tax returns and said: “I have already challenged the show cause notices and subsequent acts in a writ petition before the Allahabad High Court.”
He said he was writing to Sitharaman “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,” he said in the letter. “Besides wasting precious judicial time and resources.”
In a statement issued on May 27, Bahl had said: “All the funds invested in the property are from income on which taxes have been duly paid. And have been duly, undisputedly and consistently disclosed in the Foreign Asset Schedule of the Income Tax Returns of Mr Raghav Bahl and his wife and children. The entire funds invested in that property have been remitted through the banking channel under the scheme approved by the Reserve Bank of India and all taxes have been duly paid.”
Last year in October, Bahl’s organisation Quintillion Media, which runs the news website The Quint, in Noida and his Delhi home were raided by income tax officials. In an article then, The Quint said: “The apparent flip-flop of the I-T officers [about whether it is a survey or a search] certainly does not inspire confidence and creates genuine doubts whether the operation is for collateral purposes besides being part of overall messaging to muzzle dissent.”
Bahl is the founder of The Quint and Network18 group. He has also made an investment in The News Minute.