Dubai hotelier denies money laundering

DUBAI - A Dubai-based Indian hotelier, who has secured the release of several Indian prisoners by donating blood money, is preparing to file a counter case after an Indian court ordered a probe into allegations of money laundering by him.

Chairman of Dubai Grand Hotel and Apex Group of Companies S. P. Singh Oberoi has pledged to take the petitioner and an Indian English newspaper to court demanding a compensation of Rs10 crore (approximately Dh7.2 million) for defaming him.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court last week ordered the Directorate of Enforcement in New Delhi to expeditiously look into a petition filed against Oberoi, who had hit the headlines for his charity works, especially for helping to raise Dh3.4 million in blood money to save 17 Indians from death sentence. The petitioner, Vijay Pal Singh, had accused Oberoi and his brother of “violating India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 in connivance with various bank officials”, the court said while passing the order. Singh’s complaint said that no decision was taken despite lapse of sufficient time in a case that was registered against the Oberois by the Income Tax Department.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from India, Oberoi denied all allegations and claimed the petitioner was taking revenge on his family. “He was a partner in my brother’s business. After they had a split, he resorted to these things and he is trying to tarnish our image,” he said.

“I have already been cleared by the Income Tax Department from an investigation they had conducted after I submitted all the required documents and proofs. I do not have 126 bank accounts as he is claiming. I hardly have 10 accounts in India and all my money is white money. The blood money that I have paid to save 37 prisoners, including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, has records. If I can donate millions, why should I avoid taxes in lakhs?”

Oberoi’s advocate Ranjan Lakhan Pal said he was preparing to file a counter case against Singh and would make the newspaper, which reported the court’s order, a party in it. “We came to know the court’s order only when the report was published this week. We are making the newspaper a party in the case because it published the report without verifying facts from us, and with all sorts of wrong information,” he said. Lakhan Pal said he would file a criminal contempt petition this week in the High Court citing that Singh has misled the court to get an order against Oberoi by providing false information. “We are filing a defamation case demanding Rs10 crore (Rs100 million) compensation. The newspaper will be a party in that case. We are also filing another petition requesting the High Court order be recalled,” he said.

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