ED arrests Sukesh Chandrashekar's aide, grills actor Jacqueline Fernandez

The agency suspects she is a "beneficiary" of the proceeds of crime


The Enforcement Directorate (ED), on Thursday, arrested an associate of alleged conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar in a money laundering case and questioned actor Jacqueline Fernandez for the second consecutive day in connection with the probe into it, officials said.

Pinky Irani was placed arrested under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). According to officials, Irani was allegedly not cooperating and hence was taken into custody.

The probe agency had earlier arrested Chandrashekhar, his actor wife Leena Maria Paul and two associates.

Meanwhile, the agency continued to record the statement of 36-year-old Fernandez.

The actor had spent about eight hours at the agency's office on Wednesday as she was questioned and her statement recorded in multiple sessions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Fernandez has been grilled by the ED at least twice early this year in this case during which she was also confronted with Chandrashekhar.

The agency suspects she is a "beneficiary" of the proceeds of crime allegedly generated by Chandrashekhar by conning and extorting money from some high-profile people.

A spokesperson for the actor had earlier said she was testifying before the agency as a witness.

"Jacqueline Fernandez is being called to testify as a witness by the ED. She has duly recorded her statements and in future will also be completely cooperating with the agency in the investigations. Jacqueline also categorically denies alleged slanderous statements made about relationship with the involved couple," the spokesperson had said in a statement in October.

On December 5, The ED had stopped Fernandez at the Mumbai airport and barred her from flying abroad. It asked her to remain in the country as she may be required to join the probe.

The Sri Lankan-origin actor has been questioned by the ED in multiple sessions in connection with the probe into the over Rs 200 crore money laundering case against Chandrashekhar and his wife.

The agency had last week filed a charge sheet before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in New Delhi and named the couple and six others.

It had alleged in the charge sheet that Chandrashekhar claimed that he gifted Fernandez numerous costly gifts, including some Persian cats and a horse.

The actor is being questioned to corroborate these claims of Chandrashekhar and to find if she was a beneficiary of the laundered money and to establish her role in this money trail.

Another Bollywood actor-dancer Nora Fatehi has also been grilled by the ED in this case.

Chandrashekhar is accused of cheating some rich people, including former Fortis Healthcare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh's wife Aditi Singh.

Investigations found that Chandrashekhar, while being lodged in the Rohini jail here, allegedly ran an extortion racket using phone spoofing technology, according to officials. The ED had arrested the couple and two co-accused, Pradeep Ramnani and Deepak Ramnani, in this case.

In August, the agency raided some of Chandrashekhar's premises and seized a sea-facing bungalow in Chennai, Rs 82.5 lakh in cash and over a dozen luxury cars.

It had claimed, in a statement, that Chandrashekhar is a "known conman" and is being probed by the Delhi Police in a case of alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and extortion to the tune of about Rs 200 crore.

"Chandrasekhar is the mastermind of this fraud. He has been part of the crime world since the age of 17. He has multiple FIRs against him," the ED had said. Despite being in the jail, it said, Chandrashekhar "did not stop conning" people.

"He (using a cellphone procured illegally in prison) with the help of technology made spoofed calls to dupe people as the numbers displayed on the called party's phone number belonged to senior government officers.

"While speaking (from prison) to these persons, he claimed to be a government officer offering to help people for a price," the ED had claimed.

Chandrasekhar and Paul were also arrested by the Delhi Police.