ED Begins Money Laundering Probe Against Sameer Wankhede Over Bribery Charges In Aryan Khan Case
Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday launched a probe into money laundering allegations against Sameer Wankhede, the former zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Mumbai.
It has also issued summons to three NCB officers for interrogation.
Wankhede, along with the former SP of NCB Vishwa Vijay Singh, intelligence officer Ashish Ranjan, and two private persons – Kiran Gosavi and Sanville D’Souza, had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 25 crore from actor Shah Rukh Khan in the 2021 Cordelia drug case involving his son Aryan Khan, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its first information report on May 11, 2023, said.
The deal was closed at Rs 18 crore by the accused people. Wankhede is also accused of accumulating wealth beyond his known sources of income, according to individuals familiar with the matter.
The CBI had earlier filed charges against the accused for purported criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B IPC) and the threat of extortion (Section 388 IPC), along with provisions related to bribery under the Prevention of Corruption Act. These charges were initiated based on a complaint from the NCB.
Upon learning about the ED filing a case against him, Wankhede swiftly approached the high court, requesting protection from any coercive measures while claiming that it was a “counter blast” to a complaint filed by him against the anti-drug agency’s senior official. The Bombay High Court had earlier granted the IRS officer interim protection from any coercive action till January 10 in the CBI case.
Aryan Khan was arrested on October 3, 2021, following the contentious raid on the Cordelia cruise ship in Mumbai. Subsequently, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) established by the NCB exonerated Khan on May 27 of last year, stating that he was not involved in any broader drug trafficking network as asserted by Wankhede.
The NCB’s internal investigation uncovered that the names of Aryan Khan and Arbaaz Merchant were added to the agency’s “information note” at the eleventh hour. Additionally, it was found that procedures such as properly documenting the seizure of phones and recording statements were not carried out correctly by Wankhede’s team.
The NCB in an affidavit submitted to the Bombay High Court asserted that Wankhede cannot cite his chats with actor Shah Rukh Khan as evidence of his integrity since he had kept these conversations “confidential.”
“Moreover, it is pertinent to note that there was no reason for Wankhede to have continued such chats with Shah Rukh Khan without informing his superior officers,” the NCB said. The CBI is currently analysing these chats as part of its investigation against the officer.