New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has named Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez as an accused in a multi-crore money-laundering racket run by conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar who allegedly showered her with gifts during a seven-month “relationship”.
The actor was named in a supplementary chargesheet filed by the ED to probe a Rs 215-crore extortion case against Chandrasekhar.
The conman was arrested in 2017 by the Delhi Police for allegedly taking money from AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran to bribe Election Commission (EC) officials. He promised to acquire the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol for the V.K. Sasikala faction in a by-election.
Chandrasekhar was later charged by the capital’s police for cheating several people, including former Religare promoter Shivinder Mohan Singh’s wife Aditi.
The ED began the money-laundering probe based on the FIR by Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) into that extortion case.
Shivinder Mohan Singh was arrested in October 2019 in a case related to alleged misappropriation of funds at Religare Finvest Ltd.
Acording to ED officials, Chandrasekhar allegedly took money from Aditi posing as a government official and promising to get bail for her husband.
In 2020, it’s claimed he impersonated then-law secretary Anup Kumar and home secretary Ajay Bhalla — over telephone from jail — to extort Rs 215 crore from Aditi.
He allegedly told Aditi that she should follow his instructions and also told her that her conversations were being “heard” by the home minister and the prime minister.
During that probe, it came to light that Chandrasekhar had a “relationship” with Fernandez while in jail, and met her twice face-to-face when out on parole.
The ED’s first chargesheet had said Chandrasekhar gave expensive gifts to the actress from the swindled money – amounting to Rs 5.71 crore.
The gifts ranged from Hermès bags worth lakhs, diamond jewellery from Tiffany, and exotic cats and horses sent through a carrier. The probe agency said this carrier was Chadrasekhar’s long-time associate Pinky Irani.
The investigating agency now suspects Fernandez was aware that the gifts came from ill-gotten money.
In February, 2022, Chandrasekhar released a letter from jail saying none of the gifts given to Fernandez were proceeds of any crime.
“I have gifted her things and done things for her family, as normal things one would do for his loved one in a relationship,” he wrote.
Chandrashekhar further said everyone should stop looking at Fernandez as if she has done “something wrong”.
The duo’s “love story” began in January 2021 when Chandrasekhar allegedly started calling and messaging Fernandez from inside Tihar Jail.
While Fernandez did not respond at first, Chandrasekhar apparently approached her through her hairdresser, introducing himself as the “owner of Sun TV and Malabar Jewels” and as someone “close to Home Minister Amit Shah”. This is when the two started talking, sources in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told ThePrint in July.
There were multiple video calls too between the duo when Chadrashekhar called her from his Tihar “office”.
However, Fernandez – who has been questioned several times by the ED — told investigators that she was not even aware that Chandrasekhar was calling her from jail, and that she often wondered why he “avoided meeting her at occasions”.
There has been trouble for Fernandez ever since the ED made her a witness and a possible “beneficiary” of the money-laundering racket allegedly run by Chandrasekhar.
In December last year, the Sri Lankan actor was stopped from boarding a flight to Muscat from Mumbai airport after the ED issued a lookout circular (LOC) in her name.
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