New Delhi–A court here on Thursday sent to ED custody, till January 2, hawala trader Paras Mal Lodha who was arrested for converting demonetised notes worth Rs 25 crore linked to industrialist J. Sekhar Reddy and lawyer Rohit Tandon into new currency.

Duty Metropolitan Magistrate Ashok Kumar allowed the Enforcement Directorate to quiz Lodha till January 2.

Special public prosecutor Vikas Garg had sought extension of custody, saying that Lodha is required to be confronted with documents and other articles recovered during investigation.

He told court that a hard disk and computers were seized from Lodha’s office at Delhi and Kolkata.

Lodha’s defence counsel opposed the plea, saying that arrest was illegal and the plea seeking further custody is without any basis as the plea does not disclose any fresh ground.

Lodha was presented after expiry of his seven-day police custody.

The Kolkata-based businessman was arrested on last Wednesday after hours of questioning by the ED officials and booked under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Lodha, a leading businessman with interests in real estate and mining, had been intercepted by a team of ED sleuths at the Mumbai airport on Wednesday while he was trying to flee to Malaysia.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had earlier this month arrested Reddy, a former Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam Board Member, and two others from Chennai for money-laundering after Income Tax (IT) department recently seized 177 kg of gold, Rs 96 crore in old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and Rs 34 crore in new currency from their premises.

Cash amount of Rs 13.65 crore, including Rs 2.60 crore in new currency notes, was seized from the office of Tandon in south Delhi’s Greater Kailash-I area during a raid conducted by Delhi Police on December 10.

Sources said that Reddy had executed a lot of work for the Tamil Nadu government.

In connection with the case, IT officials raided 12 locations in the southern state including the house of Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao.

ED officials earlier on December 1 raided multiple hawala operators across the country involved in illegal conversion of old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 to valid legal tender since November 8 demonetisation announcement. (IANS)

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