The Enforcement Directorate has locked up over Rs 1.77 crore worth bank deposits of journalist Rana Ayyub in connection with a money-laundering probe against her linked to alleged irregularities in charitable funds raised for philanthropic use, news agency PTI reported.
The federal investigation agency had issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to attach fixed deposit and bank deposits held in two accounts of a private bank in Navi Mumbai.
The account holder is Ayyub and deposits totalling Rs 1,77,27,704 have been attached by the ED.
In September 2021, Vikas Sankrityayan, founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” had filed an FIR against Ayyub at Ghaziabad Police Station, Uttar Pradesh. The police lodged a complaint after taking cognizance related to alleged irregularities in donor funds of over Rs 2.69 crore raised by her through an online crowdfunding platform called ‘Ketto’, between 2020 to 2021.
“Entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused,” Ayyub, a vocal critic of the ruling BJP had stated.
According to the agency, “Funds totaling Rs 2,69,44,680 were raised on Ketto by Rana Ayyub. These funds were withdrawn in the bank accounts of her sister and father. All these funds were subsequently transferred in Ayyub’s own account.”
Ayyub submitted documents of expense for Rs 31,16,770 to the ED, however, after verification of the claimed expenses, the ED found that “the actual expenses were to the tune of Rs 17,66,970.”
It alleged that fake bills were found to have been prepared by Rana Ayyub in the name of some entities to claim expenses on relief work, it alleged adding that “expenses made for personal travel by air were claimed as expense for relief work.”
Ayyub created the fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh from the funds raised on the online platform and subsequently “did not utilize” these for relief work, the federal investigation agency said.
Journalist Rana Ayyub, it added, also “deposited a total of Rs 74.50 lakh in PM Cares fund and CM Relief Fund.”
(Inputs from PTI)