The Enforcement Directorate has filed a prosecution complaint against prominent Indian journalist Rana Ayyub under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The central agency had previously locked Ayyub’s assets worth over Rs 1.77 crore. Ayyub, who writes for influential international news platforms such as the Washington Post and is often critical of the Narendra Modi government for its treatment of India’s Muslims and other marginalised communities, has been under investigation since she was named in an FIR last year for allegedly raising money for charity but using it herself. In March, the journalist was stopped from flying out to London after she received summons from the ED.
In a statement on Thursday, the ED alleged that the money Ayyub raised for Covid relief through online crowdfunding platforms such as Ketto was deposited into the accounts of her father and sister and subsequently her own.
“Ayyub utilised these funds to create a fixed deposit of Rs 50 lakh for herself and transferred Rs 50 lakh in a new bank account,” the agency alleged. “ED investigation revealed that only approximately Rs 29 lakh was used for relief work.”
The agency further accused the journalist of faking invoices.
“Investigation by ED further revealed that Ms Rana Ayyub illegally raised Rs 2.69 crore by launching three online campaigns in the name of charity by cheating the general public donors. These funds were not used for the intended purpose, instead used for creation of assets for herself,” the ED’s statement alleged. “Ms Rana Ayyub has tried to project these funds as untainted and thus has laundered the funds received from the general public. Ms Rana Ayyub also received the funds from foreign countries without any approval or registration from the government which is required under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.”
Ayyub has denounced the FIR against her as “baseless” and “malicious” and insisted that the “entire donation received through Ketto is accounted for and not a single paisa has been misused”.