The enforcement directorate has locked assets worth over Rs 1.77 crore belonging to journalist Rana Ayyub, the Hindu . The action comes after an FIR was registered last year by the Indirapuram Police Station in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, alleging that the journalist acquired money from the public in the name of charity.
The ED had initiated an investigation against Ayyub in September when the FIR was registered. Both the ED and the income tax department have since been investigating the transactions in question, Hindustan Times . On Thursday, the ED locked the assets.
A note from the ED said: “Funds totalling Rs 2,69,44,680 were raised on Ketto by Rana Ayyub. These funds were withdrawn in the bank accounts of her sister/father. Of this amount, Rs 72,01,786 was withdrawn in her own bank account.”
The note alleged that “fake bills” purportedly prepared by Ayyub were found. “Expenses made for personal travel by air were claimed as expenses for relief work,” it claimed.
The FIR was filed in September based on a complaint by Vikas Sankrityayan, co-founder of the Hindu IT Cell, a Hindu supremacist group. Sankrityayan accused Ayyub of “illegally acquiring money from the general public in the name of charity” on Ketto, a crowdfunding website, after Ayyub raised money through the platform for three relief campaigns.
He also claimed she had violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act because she was a “journalist by profession” and was “receiving foreign money without any approval certificate or registration from the government”.
The ED has claimed that the funds were raised in a pre-planned manner, in the name of charity and that they were not completely used for the stated purpose. The agency also said that Ayyub parked some of the funds in a current account and created a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh from the funds raised on Ketto.
When the FIR was filed, Ayyub had released a on Twitter, calling it “baseless” and “malicious”. She stated that the donations received via Ketto were accounted for and had not been misused.
In a , Ayyub said the allegations of misuse of funds were "preposterous, wholly mala fide and belied by record" and were a "deliberate misreading" of her bank statements. Detailing how the funds raised were used, she said her claims were "supported by documents" that she had already placed before the authorities.
"I have demonstrably shown, before the Income Tax Department, as also before two zonal offices of the ED, that no part of the relief campaign money has been used for any other purpose," the statement said.
Ayyub also described the "various allegations" reported by the media as "utterly baseless, mala fide and fanciful", and said that she did not have a copy of the ED's provisional attachment order that was being quoted.