The Enforcement Directorate has summoned actor Prakash Raj for questioning in a money laundering case linked to an alleged Rs 100-crore ponzi and fraud case against a Tiruchirapalli-based jewellery group, official sources said Thursday.
The investigation pertains to a case against Pranav Jewellers, a partnership firm based in Tiruchirapalli, whom the ED raided on November 20 and claimed to have seized "unexplained" cash of Rs 23.70 lakh and some gold jewellery.
Raj (58), a national award-winning actor, has been a brand ambassador of this company. He has been asked to depose before the federal agency in Chennai in the first week of December.
According to sources, the ED wants to record his statement and understand some purported payments made by the company to the Bengaluru-based actor-politician and some other financial transactions.
Raj, who has acted in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil movies, has been an outspoken critic of the BJP. He unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate from Bengaluru Central seat.
The ED case stems from an FIR of the Tamil Nadu Police Economic Offences Wing.
According to the police complaint, Pranav Jewellers and others collected Rs 100 crore from the public under the guise of a gold investment scheme with the promise of high returns, the federal agency said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
"Pranav Jewellers failed to return the amount to such investors and the firm (Pranav Jewellers) and other connected persons cheated the public by diverting public funds to shell entities/ entry providers under the garb of purchase of bullion/ gold ornaments," it said.
The supplier parties in the books of Pranav Jewellers were entry providers, who during the investigation, "confessed" to providing adjustment and bogus accommodation entries to Pranav Jewellers for amounts of over Rs 100 crore and also "confessed" to giving cash to the accused persons in lieu of bank payments, the ED claimed.
"During the searches, various incriminating documents, unexplained cash of Rs 23.70 lakh, bullion and gold jewellery weighing 11.60 kg was seized," the probe agency said.
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