Mumbai: Closing in on the financial trail in the Sheena Bora murder case, the CBI on Thursday told a court that former media baron Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani allegedly siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs 900 crore from their company 9X Media through a layer of nine companies.
The CBI made the submission while telling the court that it has sought Interpol's help in seeking access to overseas bank accounts of the Mukerjeas even as it secured extension of of Peter's custody till November 30.
Seeking Peter's custody, CBI, which had claimed financial transaction as the motive behind Sheena's murder, said investments of crores of rupees were made by the Mukerjea couple and that "Indrani and Peter had formed various companies during 2006-07 and invested Rs 900 crore in them."
CBI, represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, also told the court that the "money siphoned off from INX (in which Peter and Indrani were partners) dealings was routed to Sheena Bora's HSBC account in Singapore."
The court was informed that "CBI has written to Interpol seeking access to accounts of Mukerjeas including one in Sheena's name at HSBC Bank, Singapore."
CBI also told the court that a woman named Gayatri Ahuja, working in DBS Bank Singapore, helped Indrani open an account in HSBC Singapore.
During investigations, Peter told CBI that accounts might have been opened in the name of Sheena Bora (by Indrani) in HSBC and other banks in Hongkong and Singapore.
According to CBI, the couple's company 9X Media Pvt Ltd carried out its internal audit in which nine companies having shareholding as on March 2009 were found to have instances of alleged misallocation and siphoning of substanial amounts of funds by Peter and Indrani.
The reports of Serious Fraud Investigation Office and Income Tax and documents of chartered accountants substantiate the above facts, the CBI said while seeking Peter's remand.
Singh also told the court that Indrani and Peter had informed the police that whereabouts of Sheena were not known but later they told police that they have found her.
59-year-old Peter was taken to New Delhi for two days for questioning by senior CBI officials and experts on the financial trail in the sensational murder case before being brought to Mumbai this morning.
The central agency had claimed that it has come across some important information and documents which are very crucial for probe relating to the case.
Peter, husband of prime accused Indrani Mukerjea, was arrested on November 19 and granted CBI custody till today, which was extended by four more days by Metropolitan Magistrate judge RV Adone.
Sheena (24), Indrani's daughter from an earlier marriage, was allegedly killed by her mother, her former husband Sanjeev Khanna and her former driver Shyamvar Rai in April 2012.
The CBI said it has collected Income Tax returns of Indrani and Peter and that they are required to be verified during his interrogation. "Lie detection test of the accused (Peter) is also required to be conducted to verify his versions."
However, Peter's lawyers Mihir Gheewala and Kushal Mor told the court the former media baron was himself a victim and not an accused in the case.
"Peter is a victim of his wife Indrani's devious methods," the lawyers said, adding he only trusted his wife when she told him that Sheena was alive.
The defence lawyers maintained that in the chargesheet filed by CBI against Indrani and her co-accused--former husband Sanjeev Khanna and then driver Shyamvar Rai--there was no mention of any wanted accused.
"Generally, if the any agency feels that more persons need to be arrested they say that some accused are wanted in the case," Gheewala told the court.
He said Peter is an extremely successful businessman and is a pioneer in media. Opposing the remand extension plea, Gheewala said "the agency doesn't require his custody to get his bank account details."
Meanwhile, Peter's family issued a statement here, saying it was shocked at his arrest.
"This has been a trying time for the family as it would be for anyone in similar circumstances. Peter is a much loved member of the family, known for his generous and compassionate nature and an honourable and impeccable reputation," it said.
The statement said the family is confident of Peter's innocence and they are in no doubt that due process will ultimately reveal this.
"It would be best at this time that the agencies are allowed to conduct their work in an unhampered manner - without irresponsible conclusions being arrived at in the interim period by any party."