Freelance journalist Rajeev Sharma has been arrested again for alleged money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Previously, in September 2019, Sharma had been arrested by the Delhi Police under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for allegedly supplying sensitive information to Chinese intelligence. On July 1, the Delhi-based journalist was arrested under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was produced before the local court on Friday. The agency registered the case under PMLA based on the Delhi Police FIR in the spying matter.
A special court has granted ED seven days custody of Rajeev Sharma, the central probe agency said in a statement. The agency also said that their investigation has revealed the 62-year-old journalist had supplied confidential and sensitive information to Chinese intelligence officers in exchange for remuneration, which compromised the nation's security, as reported by NDTV.
Cash Remuneration Through Hawala
The Enforcement Directorate also found that the cash for Sharma's remuneration had been generated through a hawala by Mahipalpur-based shell companies. The companies were run by Chinese nationals Zhang Cheng alias Suraj, Zhang Lixia alias Usha and Quing Shi, and a Nepalese Sher Singh alias Raj Bohara.
According to the agency, the Chinese companies were acting as a channel for Chinese intelligence to pay people like Sharma, who provide secret information and involved in criminal activities. Some other Indian trading companies are also under examination. Rajeev Sharma used to receive money through anonymous bank accounts to hide the transactions.
Previous Investigations And Arrests
After his arrest in 2019, Delhi Police said Sharma shared sensitive information about India's border security to Chinese intelligence. As per the information gathered, Sharma was contacted by Chinese intelligence in 2016. According to Special Cell DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, Sharma had been in contact with some Chinese intelligence officers and had received ₹40 lakh in one-and-a-half years, and he was also paid USD 1000 for every information he shared. Police had also seized classified defence documents from him when he was arrested on September 14, 2020. However, since the chargesheet was not filed within 60 days of his arrest, he was granted statutory bail in December 2020.