The Supreme Court on Monday directed Preeti Chandra, the wife of former Unitech promoter Sanjay Chandra and an accused in a money laundering case, to renounce her Dominican Republic citizenship and submit her passport before the Caribbean nation’s embassy in Delhi.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), told a bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra that Preeti Chandra has applied for a grant of Indian citizenship.
The court took note of the submissions of the law officer that Ms Chandra’s passport issued by the Dominican Republic was with the ED’s investigating officer probing the money laundering case.
The bench ordered her to submit her passport at the embassy of the Dominican Republic to renounce her citizenship of the Caribbean nation.
The bench, however, refused to modify one of the bail conditions that she will not leave the national capital region without prior leave of the court.
The counsel for Preeti Chandra said an advertisement has been placed in newspapers about her seeking to give up citizenship of the Dominican Republic.
Earlier, the top court had asked the Centre to apprise it of its stand on the proposed citizenship renouncement. She has sought the restoration of her Indian citizenship.
Her advocate Kapil Sibal had earlier told the court that pursuant to the Delhi High Court order she has decided to give up her citizenship of the Dominican Republic and sought Indian citizenship for her so she doesn’t become stateless. The bench had noted she would apply for an Indian citizenship and the application may be processed in accordance with law.
It had extended the time for compliance with the High Court order for surrendering her citizenship.
“Dominican Republic citizenship you (Chandra) have to give up because I am also aware of how much money has gone abroad in the Cayman Islands and other things. Fortunately, because of our orders, all this came to light,” Justice Chandrachud observed.
The top court on August 4 refused to interfere with the Delhi High Court order granting bail to Preeti Chandra in the case by disallowing the ED’s plea seeking cancellation of relief.
The ED registered a case under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Unitech Group and its promoters over allegations that the owners Sanjay Chandra and Ajay Chandra illegally diverted over Rs 2,000 crore to Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.
The money laundering case arose from a number of Delhi Police and CBI FIRs filed by the home buyers against the Unitech Group and its promoters. A charge sheet has already been filed before the trial court.
It has been alleged that funds collected from home buyers for housing projects were not utilised for their intended purpose, that the buyers were cheated, and that the accused committed the offence of money laundering.
The allegation against Preeti Chandra, according to the prosecution, is that she received the proceeds of crime totalling Rs 107 crore in her company Prakausli Investments Pvt Ltd, but did not disclose how the money was used.