The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today lodged a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against controversial godman Asaram and his men running a Chandkheda-based ashram, officials said.
The case was lodged after the Surat police unearthed a conspiracy by his son Narayan Sai to pay a Rs 13-crore bribe to weaken their case four months ago, the ED officials said.
The ED has been investigating the money laundering angle after the Surat police recovered Rs 8 crore in cash from different people associated with Asaram (72), who is currently lodged in a Jodhpur jail in connection with a sexual assault case, and his son Narayan Sai.
Today, the ED finally lodged a formal complaint against Asaram and his people for running his ashrams in India, they said.
Since the cash recovered by the Surat police remained unaccounted for, the ED believed that Asaram and his ashrams are allegedly involved in money laundering activities through their network in and outside India.
Sources said ED officials may conduct search operations at Asaram's ashram in Ahmedabad as well as other places to find out the source of their income, who gave them the money, how such transactions are made and who else are involved in transferring such huge amounts of cash.
Since Asaram's empire stretches beyond Indian boundaries, sources have also revealed that the ED may extend their probe under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
In February, the Surat police filed a chargesheet in a special court against Sai and eight others, charging them under the Prevention of Corruption Act, for allegedly conspiring to bribe police and judicial officials to weaken a rape case lodged against him.
Sai (42) has been arrested for repeatedly sexually assaulting one of the two Surat-based sisters, who was an inmate of his Surat ashram.
It was during Sai's remand period (in connection with the rape case) that the city crime branch unearthed a plan to bribe cops, doctors and even judicial officers to dilute the rape case against him.
The two Surat-based sisters had lodged two different complaints against Sai and his father Asaram, accusing them of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges.