The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Saket Gokhale in an alleged money laundering case linked to crowdfunding. He is presently in Gujarat jail in a cheating case.
Citing sources, Republic learnt that the ED will file an application in Ahmedabad Metro Court for the remand of the TMC leader. If the ED gets custody, Gokhale will be taken to the agency's Ahmedabad office for questioning.
Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch arrested Gokhale from Delhi on December 30 last year in a case of alleged misuse of money he had collected through crowdfunding. He is booked under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), and 467 (forgery) of the IPC.
The First Information Report (FIR) was registered on a complaint filed by an Ahmedabad resident who claimed to have donated Rs 500 to Gokhale through online mode.
Police said that the case is not just about Rs 500 as the TMC leader allegedly collected more than Rs 70 lakh from over 1,700 individuals through 'ourdemocracy' platform and used that money for personal use.
On Monday, the Gujarat High Court refused bail to Gokhale in the crowd-funding 'misuse' case and asked the TMC leader to approach the court after a chargesheet is filed.
"We will consider the plea only after the charge sheet is filed," said High Court Justice Samir Dave.
Gokhale approached the high court after a magistrate's court and session court in Ahmedabad denied him bail recently.
Appearing for TMC leader, Senior advocate Asim Pandya said, "There was no element of forgery in funds collected by Gokhale through an online platform which is used by even political parties. He is innocent and made a scapegoat. He is a full-time activist sustaining donations received through crowdfunding. As soon as he joined TMC, he stopped accepting funds to prove his bonafide."
On the allegation of the misappropriation or personal use of funds, Gokhale's advocate said that since his client is a full-time activist, there cannot be bifurcation that "this much fund is for running campaigns and this much for personal use".
On December 6, Saket Gokhale was arrested by Cyber Crime Branch for allegedly spreading fake news regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Morbi following the bridge collapse incident. He was granted bail the next day. He was arrested by Ahmedabad Cyber Crime Branch on December 30 in the crowdfunding case.
Image courtesy: Facebook/Saket Gokhale