Court Remands Ex-NSE MD Chitra Ramakrishna To 4 Day Custody In Phone Tapping Case After Arrest By ED
The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested former NSE MD Chitra Ramakrishna in a money laundering case connected with alleged illegal phone tapping and snooping of stock exchange employees, after getting the nod from a Delhi court to probe the matter.
Special Judge Sunena Sharma allowed four-day custodial interrogation of Ramakrishna.
ED has sufficient grounds to proceed with the investigating into the allegation of money laundering and to seek custodial interrogation of the accused to unearth the deeper conspiracy, the involvement of other accused persons, and their entire modules operandi. Accordingly, the accused is remanded to ED custody till July 18, the judge said.
The former NSE MD was produced in the court from Tihar central jail on a production warrant issued by the judge against the accused on a plea filed by the ED.
After the accused was produced, the ED took permission from the court to interrogate her.
Later, the ED formally arrested Ramakrishnan on the ground of non-cooperation and again produced her before the court and urged for her nine-day custodial interrogation.
The court, however, granted her four-day custody to the agency.
Ramakrishna was arrested by the CBI in a separate case and was currently in judicial custody.
Seeking her custody in the current case, ED's Special Public Prosecutor N K Matta told the court that Ramkrishna was required for custodial interrogation as she was directly or indirectly indulging in or knowingly assisted in and was actually involved in all process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and further in projecting or claiming it as untainted property.
Matta submitted that custodial interrogation of Ramkrishna was essential to further determine her role as well as that of various other persons who facilitated the offence of money laundering and to determine the entire modus operandi employed for the generation of proceeds of crime and projection thereof as licit payment for "Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities' of NSE.
He further submits that custodial interrogation of Ramkrishna is essential to establish a money trail of Proceed of Crime as well as projection thereof as she may be required to be confronted with the other suspects named in the FIR.
She is also required to be confronted with various documents collected during the course of the investigation. The custodial interrogation of Ramkrishna is necessary to ascertain her complicity with other key players involved in laundering the proceeds of crime, her relationship, and modus operandi adopted with such other persons, the prosecutor said.
The custodial interrogation of Ramkrishna would enable the ED to ascertain and identify the modus and for an effective investigation of the case to bring the instant case to a logical conclusion, the agency said.
According to the probe agency, during the year 2009 to 2017, former NSE CEO Ravi Narain, Ramkrishna, Executive Vice President Ravi Varanasi, and Head (Premises) Mahesh Haldipur and others conspired together to cheat NSE and its employees and for said purpose, iSEC Services Pvt Ltd was engaged for illegal interception of phone calls of employees of NSE in the guise of Periodic Study of Cyber vulnerabilities of NSE.
The top officials of NSE issued agreement/ work orders in the guise of Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities of NSE in favour of iSEC Services Pvt. Ltd., represented by former Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey, and illegally intercepted the phone calls of its employees by installing an illegal machine without seeking the requisite permission from the competent authority as mandated under the law.
Further, no consent of the employees of NSE was taken in this matter, it added.
Transcripts of these calls were provided by iSEC and received by the officials of NSE at the top level in breach of confidentiality and privacy of employees of NSE and thereby, caused wrongful gain of Rs 4.54 crore to iSEC as payment for this task and corresponding wrongful loss to NSE, the agency said.
It further averred that the amount of Rs 4.54 crore represented the proceeds of crime in this case which were acquired by iSEC Services Pvt. Ltd. from NSE of India and which were projected as fees for non-existent 'Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities of NSE.
The investigating officer (IO) submitted that the Enforcement Directorate had recorded statements of various persons including Ramkrishna and had collected various documents including the "Monitoring Reports for Call Logs", Approval Notes of NSE bearing approval granted by Chitra Ramkrishna for the so-called Periodic Study of Cyber Vulnerabilities, etc. which prove the allegations contained in the CBI FIR, based on which the ED filed the current case.
It further submitted that Ramkrishna was in possession of material evidence and information relating to the offence of money laundering, which was the subject matter of investigation in the instant case and custodial interrogation of Ramkrishna is necessary to establish a money trail of proceeds of crime and to gather crucial evidence.
With PTI inputs