The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned a Goa-based businessman in connection with its money laundering probe linked to the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, officials said on Friday. They said Gaurav Arya, who runs a hotel in the coastal state, has been asked to depose before the central probe agency at its office in the Ballard Estate area of Mumbai on August 31. The summons was stuck at his property in Goa as the agency was not able to get in touch with him, they said.
Arya is being called after the ED came across some mobile phone messages reportedly sent by actor and Rajput's live-in partner Rhea Chakraborty to him in 2017 and they purportedly indicate discussion of certain banned narcotics, they said.
In some news channel interviews, Arya had said that he has never dealt in narcotics and his last interaction with Rhea was about three years ago, adding he will "comply" with all legal probes and procedures.
The agency will also summon some other people with whom Rhea, 28, had similarly interacted in connection with alleged procurement of certain drugs and banned narcotics apart from talking about some other professional deals.
The agency is looking at the money laundering angle in this case and hence all such conversations and entities are required to be questioned to establish facts and to find out if any criminality is involved, a senior official said.
It had questioned Rajput's talent manager Jaya Saha recently after her name allegedly figured in one of such chats regarding a chemical called CBD (cannabidiol).
She has denied any wrongdoing during the questioning and is understood to have told the agency that prescribed amounts of CBD can be used to treat anxiety.
The ED has also intimated the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) about these purported drugs-linked chats and the anti-narcotics agency is now probing these leads.
Rhea, the main accused in the case, her father Indrajit Chakraborty, brother Showik and multiple staff members of her and Rajput have been grilled by the ED till now.
On Thursday in Mumbai, the ED opened some bank lockers in the presence of Indrajit Chakraborty after it had issued prohibitory orders against their operation.
Meanwhile, the NCB, the third federal investigative agency probing the linked instances surrounding the death of the 34-year-old actor, is scanning through the details shared by the ED with it apart from collecting some other information linked to Rajput and his close associates.
A three-member team of the NCB had reached Mumbai from Delhi on Thursday and it held a meeting with the ED team that is investigating the case.
It is expected that the NCB will soon summon various people who feature in the "WhatsApp conversations" that were obtained by the ED from two mobile phones of Rhea after forensic cloning.
Rhea is expected to be called for the NCB grilling later, they said.
The ED's case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) stems from an FIR filed by Rajput's father on July 25 with the Bihar Police in Patna against Rhea, her father, mother Sandhya Chakraborty, brother Showik, Rajput's manager Samuel Miranda and Shruti Modi and unknown persons, accusing them of cheating and abetting his son's suicide.
Rajput's father has also alleged financial irregularities in his complaint to the police.
In the complaint, Singh alleged that an amount of Rs 15 crore was siphoned off from Rajput's bank account in one year to accounts of persons not known or connected to the late actor.
However, the ED has not found any direct transaction made from Rajput's account to that of Rhea except an instance where it intercepted a mobile phone message where Rhea allegedly talks about obtaining details of a debit card used by the late actor from his house manager Samuel Miranda.
Some cash deals in this case are also under the scanner of the agency.
Rhea has maintained that she "never consumed" any banned narcotics and that she will cooperate with all the probe agencies as a law-abiding citizen.
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