This Article is From Feb 11, 2022

Journalist Rana Ayyub Replies After 1.77 Crores Locked Up By Probe Agency

"As per Ketto's procedure, all donors to my campaigns made donations to Ketto's bank account..." journalist Rana Ayyub said on money laundering allegations

Journalist Rana Ayyub has denied allegations of money laundering

New Delhi:

Journalist Rana Ayyub has dismissed allegations of money laundering funds collected for philanthropic work as a "smear campaign" against her. In a statement a day after the Enforcement Directorate, or ED, locked up Rs 1.77 crore belonging to the vocal critic of the ruling BJP, she said she is "confident that the allegations levelled against me will not withstand any fair and honest scrutiny."

Sources in the ED have said it had issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, or PMLA, to attach a fixed deposit and bank accounts in Ms Ayyub and her family's name. Attaching a property means it cannot be transferred, converted or moved.

"As per Ketto's procedure, all donors to my campaigns made donations to Ketto's bank account, which after deducting processing charges, would forward the same for the relief campaign to the designated 2 bank accounts, who in turn would then transfer the entire amount received from Ketto to my bank account," Ms Ayyub said in the statement she posted on Substack and Twitter.

"It is pertinent that no foreign donations were received by me or the 2 designated bank accounts, as all the donations were received first in Ketto's bank account, who would send the amount for the relief campaign to the designated accounts in Indian currency. My instructions to Ketto were that any money received in foreign currency, should be returned to the donor, and the relief work was carried out with only domestic contributions," Ms Ayyub said.

"...In December 2021, I received summons from the Directorate of Enforcement, Delhi Zonal-Il Office, this time under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). I presented myself to the authorities and once again shared all information that was asked of me. To my surprise, the questioning was focused more on my journalistic income, particularly from foreign media houses," Ms Ayyub said.

"I have demonstrably shown, before the Income Tax Department, as also before two zonal offices of the ED, that no part of the relief campaign money has been used for any other purpose. It is pertinent that the only unutilised part of the fund, viz. the Fixed Deposit of 50 lakhs, could not be used as it was provisionally attached by the Income Tax Department from 07.08.2021 till 07.02.2022," she said.

The money laundering case against Ms Ayyub is based on a First Information Report, or FIR, filed by Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad Police in September, by a Vikas Sankrityayan - the founder of an NGO called "Hindu IT Cell" and a resident of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad.

According to a document attributed to "ED sources", the agency which investigates financial crimes found that the journalist had raised over Rs 2.69 crore through an online crowdfunding platform called Ketto for charitable purposes between 2020 and 2021.

Ms Ayyub had then stated that the "entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused".

"Funds totalling ₹ 2,69,44,680 were raised on Ketto by Rana Ayyub. These funds were withdrawn in the bank accounts of her sister and father," the Enforcement Directorate's note said, adding that the entire amount was subsequently "transferred" in Ms Ayyub's own account.

The agency said its probe "makes it abundantly clear that the funds were raised in the name of charity in a completely pre-planned and systematic manner, and the funds were not utilised completely for the purpose of which the funds were raised".

The agency also found Ms Ayyub "deposited a total of Rs 74.50 lakh in PM CARES fund and CM Relief Fund."