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ED cracks the whip, detains Hasan Ali

Pune, March 7
Stud farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, accused of massive money laundering and tax evasion, was detained by the ED which carried out multi-city searches at his Pune home and his associates' premises cracking the whip to meet tomorrow's Supreme Court deadline.

Hot in pursuit of black money trail after the apex court rap on the government, about a dozen Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials from Mumbai came down to Pune to search the premises of Khan in posh Koregaon Park area this morning and he was taken away after searches lasting several hours.

Khan was detained after a search of his premises in Pune by ED officials, sources said.

Sources said searches were carried out at the premises of Khan and his associates at Pune, Mumbai, Gurgaon, Kolkata and Hyderabad. In Kolkata, searches were conducted at the residence of businessman Kashinath Taparia. ED sources told PTI Taparia was an alleged aide of Khan but Taparia claimed he had no "partnership" with him at all.

Khan's lawyer R K Gaur said he is being taken to ED's Mumbai office for further interrogation and to possibly confront him with "some documents." Gaur, however, claimed Khan has not been detained and that he was being taken to the ED's office as part of a "routine investigation".

There was no official word from the ED and media persons waiting outside Khan's residence were not briefed about the searches. Clad in white kurta and wearing sunglasses, Khan was seen inside a black Mercedes that left the Tulip bungalow located in Valentine Residential Society escorted by ED sleuths in two cars. Khan's detention came on the eve of the Supreme Court's March 8 deadline to the government to inform it how it proposed to tackle black money hoarders.

In Kolkata, Regional Director of ED B Mallick told PTI, "We raided the premises of Kashinath Taparia and his wife this morning and found something". Taparia is brother of late Priyamvada Birla. Both the Taparias were present at the time of the raids, Mallick said.

The apex court while blasting the Centre last Thursday for not having the "will power" to act against black money hoarders asked why Khan and others were not subjected to custodial interrogation despite the probe agencies possessing sufficient material against them.

Asking "What the hell is going on in this country," the Supreme Court had asked the government to inform it by March 8 how it is planning to go after Khan and other alleged black money hoarders. The previous searches at Khan's Koregaon home were in January 2007 when the I-T department had raided the premises.

"Hasan Ali Khan has not been detained till now. He has been taken to the investigative agency's office. This is a routine investigation. It happens in all cases. The ED searched his premises and now has taken him to its office," Gaur said.

Gaur said Khan had not stashed any money in the Swiss banks. "There is no black money lying anywhere. Yes, there is an allegation. Everything has been accounted for. There is no such amount ($ 8 billion) lying in UBS and UBS has also said they have no relationship (with Khan)," he said. PTI

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