Black money case: ED team swoops on Pune house of Hasan Ali

Pune: ED sleuths on Monday swooped down on the Koregaon Park home of stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, accused of massive money laundering and tax evasion, a day before Supreme Court`s March eight deadline to the Government to inform how it is tackling alleged black money hoarders.

Two teams of Enforcement Directorate(ED) from Mumbai, which landed here this morning, were searching the residence of Khan, who lives in the Valentine Society of the posh Koregaon locality here.

Khan, who is also a real estate consultant, is under the scanner for suspected money laundering and for allegedly transferring cash and valuable assets outside the country by unlawful means with the help of foreign nationals.

The previous searches at Khan`s Koregaon home were in January 2007 when the Income Tax department had raided the premises.

Khan, who is alleged to have stashed away over USD 8 billion in Swiss banks, is reportedly undergoing medical treatment in Mumbai. He has been summoned by the ED to appear in person for investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on March 10.

However, no offence has been registered against Khan by Pune police.

Khan has appeared before I-T authorities in Mumbai on February 18 apparently in connection with notices issued to him on December 31, 2008, over alleged tax evasions in connection with undisclosed funds in several foreign bank accounts, including USD 8 billion in an account in the Zurich branch of UBS. The UBS has however denied any business relationship with him.

Tax enforcement agencies are now trying to locate properties of Khan abroad which could be attached or auctioned to extract from him a huge tax liability to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore.

The Supreme Court while lambasting the Centre last Thursday for not having the "will power" to act against black money hoarders asked why Khan and others were not subjected to custodial interrogation despite the probe agencies possessing sufficient material.

"What the hell is going on in this country," the court had asked, observing that the alleged offenders were a "pampered lot".

Expressing strong displeasure at the manner in which Khan and other alleged offenders were given repeated opportunities for adjournments by the ED, the court said the authorities were "hoodwinking" everybody and wondered whether the same leniency would have been extended to other petty offenders.

The Court also indicated that if the government fails to act, it would be compelled to appoint a special officer for supervising the probe against the offenders.

The bench had granted time till March eight to the Centre to come out with its stand failing which it would be constrained to pass appropriate orders.

The ED last Friday also issued a `Look Out Circular` at all airports against Khan to ensure he does not flee the country.