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Delhi court grants bail to 'conman' Sanjay Prakash Rai in money-laundering case

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) A court here has granted bail to "conman" Sanjay Prakash Rai alias Sanjay Sherpuria, who allegedly cheated several people by claiming close association with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), senior bureaucrats and politicians, in a money-laundering case.

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has alleged that Rai "duped" businessman Gaurav Dalmia and his family of Rs 12 crore by instilling in him the fear of arrest in connection with an ongoing investigation by the agency.

Additional Sessions Judge Chander Jit Singh granted the relief to Rai in an order passed on March 23, noting that no previous involvement of the accused was pointed out by the prosecution.

"The clean antecedents of the accused of not being involved in any other criminal case prior to the registration of the FIR alleging the commission of the scheduled offence (based on which the ED started its investigation) is a parameter which is to be considered to assess that whether or not there is any possibility of repeating of the offence by the accused," the judge said.

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The court accepted the submissions made by advocate Nitesh Rana, who said though there is the allegation in the prosecution complaint that people were duped, there is nothing on record to show that any other case is registered in respect of the said alleged incidents.

"Hence, as per record, the only case where the accused is allegedly involved is the present case and no other case is reported to be pending against the accused. Therefore, from the material on record, it may be concluded that there is little chance of the accused repeating the offence," the judge said.

The court added that no material was produced by the ED to show or indicate that the accused was a flight risk or that he or his family members have attempted to contact any witness, which might be a parameter to evaluate that whether the accused would influence the witnesses or not.

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"There has to be some material on record to at least indicate such a tendency in the accused. In the absence of any such material on record, it shall be concluded that the accused has been able to satisfy the triple test as well," the judge said.

"In view of the above discussions, based on the broad probabilities, it seems that the accused has been able to cross the bar of section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as well as the triple test and accordingly, he is admitted on bail," the judge said.

The court granted the relief to the accused on a personal bond of Rs 1.5 lakh with two sureties of an equal amount.

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In an application moved through advocate Deepak Nagar, the accused had sought bail, claiming that the investigation against him was complete and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody any longer.

An amount of Rs 6 crore from the total sum was allegedly received in the bank account of the Youth Rural Entrepreneur Foundation (YREF), to which Rai was a signatory, in January 2023 from the Dalmia Family Office Trust, wherein Gaurav Dalmia is a trustee, the ED said. Rai is alleged to have forged documents in respect of the payment to conceal the true nature of the transaction.

Rana had claimed that the entire case was a "figment of imagination" of the investigating agency and there was no evidence against Rai.

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The counsel had told the court that Rai would abide by any condition imposed upon him if he got bail.

The ED had, on August 2 last year, filed the chargesheet against Rai under the PMLA.

The money-laundering case stems from an FIR registered by the Lucknow Police, alleging that Rai projected himself as close to senior politicians and bureaucrats, and duped members of the public of big amounts. He had also claimed that he was an influencer, a social worker and associated with the PMO.

The ED arrested Rai a few months ago after it conducted searches at 42 locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Noida, Ghazipur, Pune and Gandhidham. PTI UK RC

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