The Enforcement Directorate’s probe in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to a four-year-old drugs case allegedly involving some Tollywood personalities entered the final phase with actor Tarun Kumar on Wednesday appearing before the central agency.
He reached the ED’s zonal office here around 10 a.m. in response to the notice served by the agency last month.
The ED sleuths are likely to question Tarun Kumar about suspicious financial transactions, whether he knows Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician and prime accused in the case and if he ever attended parties held at ‘F’ Club.
Tarun Kumar is the 10th person from the Telugu film industry to appear before the ED since it began questioning on August 31 in a money-laundering probe in connection with a high-end drugs racket busted by Telangana’s prohibition and excise department.
So far the central agency has questioned director Puri Jagannadh and actors Charmee Kaur, Rakul Preet Singh, Nandu, Daggubati Rana, Ravi Teja, Navdeep, Mumaith Khan, and Tanish. It also grilled Ravi Teja’s driver and aide Srinivas and a former general manager of ‘F’ Club Now it’s Tarun Kumar’s turn
The questioning was believed to be around their suspicious financial transactions with those involved in drug cases.
The ED had last month issued notices to about a dozen people connected to Tollywood as part of a money-laundering probe linked to the case related to the smuggling of ‘Class A’ narcotic substances, including LSD and MDMA.
The ED officials have been summoning Calvin Mascarenhas and others accused of questioning parallel to the questioning of Tollywood personalities.
The drugs racket was busted on July 2, 2017, when customs officials arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, a musician, and two others and seized drugs worth Rs 30 lakh from their possession.
They had reportedly told the investigators that they are supplying drugs to film celebrities, software engineers, and even students of some corporate schools. Mobile numbers of some Tollywood celebrities were allegedly found in their contact lists.
Tarun Kumar was among Tollywood celebrities questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the prohibition and excise department in 2017. He had denied taking drugs or having links with the accused arrested in the case.
The investigating team had also collected his blood, nail, and hair samples to establish if he had been consuming drugs. Following the report of Forensic Science Laboratory, SIT had given him a clean chit.
A total of 12 cases were registered in connection with the drugs racket. Thirty people were arrested while 62 individuals including 11 people connected with Tollywood were examined by the SIT under section 67 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
An American, a South African, and a Netherlands national were among those arrested.
The SIT had collected blood, hair, nail, and other samples from some of those who appeared before it for the question and sent them for analysis.
The SIT filed a charge sheet in eight out of 12 cases. It, however, gave a clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.