New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has arrested a Delhi-based journalist in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to alleged supply of sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers.
Freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma was arrested under the criminal sections of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Thursday and produced before a Delhi court on Friday.
According to ED, the court granted the probe agency seven days’ custody of Sharma.
ED’s probe found that the 62-year-old Sharma “had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for remuneration, thereby compromising the security and national interests of India.”
ED further revealed that cash for remuneration of Sharma and other unknown persons was being generated through a “hawala’” by Mahipalpur-based shell companies in Delhi that were run by Chinese nationals namely Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha and Quing Shi, along with a Nepalese national Sher Singh alias Raj Bohara.
Huge transactions were also made with various Chinese companies and some other trading companies in India, ED said.
“These Chinese companies were acting as a conduit for the Chinese intelligence agencies to provide remuneration for persons like Rajeev Sharma who indulged in criminal activities. Sharma also received money through benami bank accounts in order to conceal his involvement in criminal activities,” ED claimed.
ED’s case is based on an FIR filed under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and various sections of the IPC against Sharma last year.
He was arrested by Delhi Police on September 14, 2020, and charged with passing on information about the Indian Army’s deployment and the country’s border strategy to Chinese intelligence.
Sharma was granted bail by Delhi High Court in December 2020 on the grounds that a chargesheet was not filed within 60 days of his arrest.