ED official in the dock for ‘helping’ Hasan Ali, aides

Enforcement Directorate officials investigating money-laundering charges against Hasan Ali say they have stumbled upon proof to show that a former senior-rank colleague, now posted as a Joint Commissioner of Customs department in Mumbai, helped the Pune-based businessman and his aides by going slow in the probe from 2007 to 2009.

The officials say the colleague, who was on deputation, also helped the accused by leaking crucial information related to investigations by the ED and Income-Tax department.

After an inquiry, the ED is learnt to have written to the Central Board of Excise and Custom (CBEC) to take disciplinary action against Joint Commissioner Arvind Kumar Singh, who is currently posted with Zone I of Mumbai custom department.

Singh, however, refuted the charge and told The Indian Express over the phone from Mumbai that he can prove his innocence.

ED officials said they stumbled upon an email Singh had written to Kashinath Tapuriah, an aide of Hasan Ali who is now under arrest.

In the email, recovered from Tapuriah's laptop during searches, Singh had sought sought help from the well-connected Kolkata businessman in a departmental inquiry against him.

Officials said Singh was on deputation as Assistant Director with ED between 2007 and 2009 and during his posting in Mumbai was supervising the probe in the Ali case.

"The email was dated October 11, 2009 and sent to Tapuriah from Singh's personal email ID. It sought help from Tapuriah's contacts in the Ministry of Finance regarding an ongoing departmental inquiry against him," said an ED official.

When contacted, Singh told The Indian Express, "It is incorrect to say that I sent the email. If any mail has been found it may have gone by mistake. The email that is being discussed is dated after I left ED. We have worked very hard on this case and I will prove my innocence."

"It was at the directions of Singh that the investigating officer (IO) of the case misled the probe and also leaked information," an ED official alleged.

The IO, Amrendra Kumar Singh, has been removed from the case and now placed under suspension. "We shifted him to Srinagar but now he has been suspended for poor investigation and leakage of information to Ali and his associates," said an ED official.

"We have sent a detailed report to CBEC and are probing the involvement of other ED officials who might have helped Ali or his associates," the official added.

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