Journalist and Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court against the attachment of funds by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), reported ANI.
Ayyub’s plea stated that the “provisional attachment has expired after 180 days yet adjudicating authority PMLA is continuing with proceedings.”
In February, the ED had provisionally attached assets worth Rs 1.77 crore in connection with alleged irregularities in the collection of charitable funds by Ayyub for COVID relief work.
The ED claimed that the investigations made it clear that the funds were raised in the name of charity but not utilised completely for the purpose of which they were raised.
The case, registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) by the Ghaziabad Police, is based on an FIR from September 2021, which alleges irregularities in Ayyub’s funds.
It alludes to three crowdfunding campaigns initiated by the journalist between April 2020-June 2021, facilitated by the virtual crowdfunding platform Ketto.
The ED has stated that the said FIR states that Rana Ayyub raised huge amounts running in crores via the Ketto crowdfunding platform in three campaigns i.e. funds for slum dwellers and farmers during April-May 2020, relief work for Assam, Bihar and Maharashtra during June-September 2020 and help for Covid-19-impacted people in India during May-June 2021.
‘No Part of Relief Campaign Fund Remains Unaccounted for’: Ayyub
Ayyub, in a statement on the matter in February, had remarked, “In my three public campaigns undertaken on Ketto, I had raised a total of Rs 2,69,44,679 (about 26.9 million). I have provided all bills and invoices for the relief work undertaken by me, which is to the tune of Rs 40 lakh.”
She said that she donated Rs 74.50 lakh to CM-CARES fund of Maharashtra and to the PM-CARES Fund for relief work across India after a public-funded hospital in New Delhi refused her donation of a cheque of Rs 90 lakh.
“Thus, out of the total Rs 2.69 crore received, a total of 1 crore, 14 lakh and 50 thousand rupees was utilised for relief work as explained above. Another Rs 1 crore and 5 lakh was levied and collected as tax by the Income Tax Department. This accounts for Rs 2 crore 19 lakh and 50 thousand out of the total funds raised.”
Ayyub also said that during the second wave, she was in talks with NGOS to up a makeshift COVID hospital for which she created a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh. She was also in talks with a medical facility introduced by Ketto.
She added, “The remaining amount, which comes to little less than Rs 50 lakh is also accounted for as I had made a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh for the field hospital, which I have stated above. I reiterate that my claims are supported by documents which I have placed before the authorities.”
She also said that no foreign donations were received by her or the two designated bank accounts as all the donations were received first in Ketto’s bank account which would send the amount for relief campaigns in Indian currency.
“My instructions to Ketto were that any money received in foreign currency should be returned back to the donor, and the relief work was carried out with only domestic contributions.” (The Quint)