“Dominican Republic citizenship have to be given up…aware of how much money has gone abroad in the Cayman Islands”: Justice Chandrachud
The Supreme Court on Monday directed Preeti Chandra, the wife of former Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra and an accused in a money laundering case, to submit her passport with the embassy of the Dominican Republic here in order to renounce her citizenship of the Caribbean nation. Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, told a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices P S Narasimha and Manoj Misra that Preeti Chandra has applied for a grant of Indian citizenship.
When her husband and brother Ajay Chandra (both now in jail with father Ramesh Chandra) was caught cheating home buyers, Preeti Chandra obtained citizenship in the Dominican Republic to escape from cases. She was arrested by the ED, when she landed back in Delhi, the previous year. The apex court took note of the submissions of the law officer that Chandra’s passport issued by the Dominican Republic was with the ED’s investigating officer probing the money laundering case.
The bench ordered that she will collect her passport and submit it to the Dominican Republic embassy for the sole purpose of renouncing the citizenship of the Caribbean country. The bench, however, refused to modify one of the bail conditions that she will not leave the national capital region (NCR) without prior leave of the court. The counsel for Preeti Chandra said an advertisement has been placed in newspapers about her having sought to renounce her citizenship of the Dominican Republic.
Earlier, the top court had asked the Centre to apprise it of its stand on the proposed renouncement of her Dominican Republic citizenship. She has sought restoration of her Indian citizenship. Her advocate Kapil Sibal had earlier told the court that pursuant to the Delhi High Court order she has decided to give up her citizenship of the Dominican Republic and sought Indian citizenship for her so she doesn’t become stateless. The bench had noted she would apply for Indian citizenship and the application may be processed in accordance with law. It had extended the time for compliance with the HC order for surrendering the citizenship.
“Dominican Republic citizenship you (Preeti Chandra) have to give up because I am also aware of how much money has gone abroad in the Cayman Islands and other things. Fortunately, because of our orders, all this came to light,” Justice Chandrachud had observed. The top court had on August 4 refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court order granting bail to Preeti in the case by disallowing ED’s plea seeking cancellation of the relief.
The ED has registered a case under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Unitech Group and its promoters over allegations that the owners Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra illegally diverted over Rs 2,000 crore to Cyprus and the Cayman Islands. Sanjay Chandra was also an accused in the 2G Scam.
The money laundering case arose from a number of Delhi Police and CBI FIRs filed by the home buyers against the Unitech Group and its promoters. A charge sheet has already been filed before the trial court. It has been alleged that funds collected from home buyers for housing projects were not utilized for their intended purpose and that the buyers were cheated and that the accused committed the offence of money laundering.
The allegation against Preeti Chandra, according to the prosecution, is that she received the proceeds of crime totalling Rs.107 crore in her company Prakausli Investments Pvt Ltd, but did not disclose how the money was used.
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