Sunday, December 3, 2023

“Smear campaign”: Rana Ayyub on money laundering allegations

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Journalist Rana Ayyub in a statement on Friday refuted allegations that she had diverted funds she had raised to help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for personal use.

“It is abundantly clear that no part of the relief campaign fund remains unaccounted for, and there is absolutely no scope for any remote allegation of misuse of the funds for personal expenses,” read a statement by Rana Ayyub.

On Thursday, several media houses reported that the Enforcement Directorate had attached over Rs 1.77-crore worth of Rana Ayyub’s bank deposits in connection with a money-laundering investigation. The reports, attributed to “ED sources”, claimed that this move was related to “alleged irregularities in charitable funds raised from public donors.”

ED’s case against Rana is based on a first information report filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police in September 2021. The complainant was Vikas Sankrityayan – the founder of an NGO called “Hindu IT Cell” and a resident of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad.

However, Rana said that she had not received any communication from the authorities about her deposits being attached.

In the statement, the vocal critic of the ruling BJP said she is “confident that the allegations levelled against me will not withstand any fair and honest scrutiny.”

“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,” Rana Ayyub said.

She went on to say: “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.”

“…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,” read the statement.

“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 in the statement she posted on Substack and Twitter.

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