From Hermes to horses, money laundering accused Sukesh Chandrasekhar lavished several expensive gifts on Jacqueline Fernandez as per the actress’ own statements to the Enforcement Directorate. The Sri Lankan national, however, told the agency officials that she wasn’t aware of the conman’s real identity at the time.
The statements were made by Fernandez during several rounds of questioning as part of the ED’s investigation into Sukesh Chandrasekhar and his wife, actress Leena Maria Paul, who are facing prosecution in multiple cases, including a Rs 200 crore money laundering case. Transcripts and audio clips of the questioning have now been accessed by News18.
Sukesh Chandrasekhar and Leena Maria Paul were recently arrested by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) over an alleged extortion racket being run from Tihar Jail in Delhi.
The couple were already in Delhi Police custody and lodged in jail following a complaint by the spouses of jailed Ranbaxy promoters Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh. In the FIR, Shivinder Singh’s wife Aditi Singh had alleged that Chandrasekhar conned her of Rs 200 crore pretending to be a government official. Chandrasekhar allegedly said that he could ensure Shivinder’s bail. The Delhi Police also alleged that Chandrasekhar and his wife used hawala routes and shell companies to park the proceeds of the alleged crime overseas.
In her replies to questions put forth by ED officials, Jacqueline Fernandez said she first came to know of Chandrasekhar in the beginning of 2021 when she started receiving phone calls from “someone”. The actress said her make-up artist Shan Muthathil asked her to receive the calls “as he was asked to do so by a senior government official”. She added that the conman claimed his name was Shekhar Ratna Vela.
“I did not know Sukesh Chandrasekhar. I only know him as Shekhar Ratna Vela… He introduced himself as Shekhar Vela,” she told the officials.
As per the transcripts and audio clips, Fernandez told the agency that ‘Shekhar’ claimed to be the owner of Sun TV and said he was related to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
“Shekhar told me that he is a big fan. Soon he told me that I should movies in south India and that Sun TV is producing many such movies. Since February, I was in touch with him. He gave me his number… and asked me to make calls on this number,” Fernandez said.
Asked if any monetary transaction took place between her and Chandrasekhar, the actress told officials that the conman extended financial loan of $150,000 to her sister Geraldine who lives in the United States. She added that Chandrasekhar also transferred Rs 15 lakh to her brother Warren who resides in Australia.
The actress said she has been living in India since 2009 and that her third sibling, a brother named Ryan, also lives in Australia while her parents Elory and Kim Fernandez live in Bahrain.
Detailing the list of presents she personally received from Chandrasekhar, Fernandez said he gave her expensive gifts, including a horse named Espuela, besides three designer bags from Gucci and Chanel, two Gucci gym wear outfits, a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes, two pair of diamond earrings, a bracelet made of multi-coloured stones, and two Hermes bracelets as well. The actress further claimed that Chandrasekhar gave her a Mini Cooper car, but that she returned it to him.
This list of gifts received by Jacqueline Fernandez is also mentioned in the ED’s chargesheet filed before a Delhi court this week. The chargesheet added that Chandrashekar also arranged private jet trips and hotel stay for Fernandez on different occasions.
It also mentioned an account of gifts received by actress Nora Fatehi, who has also been questioned by the ED. The ED has claimed that Chandrashekar gifted a BMW car to Fatehi in December 2020 and later gave her Rs 75 lakh, besides other expensive gifts.
Sukesh Chandrasekhar in his own replies to the ED has contradicted Jacqueline Fernandez on the amount he transferred to her sister Geraldine. The audio clips of his questioning, too, have been accessed by News18.
When told that the actress claimed he had loaned $150,000 to Geraldine, Chandrasekhar said that wasn’t the truth. “No, she is not telling the truth. Through Deepak Ramnani (who has also been arrested), I transferred $180,000 and BMW (X5) to Geraldine,” he claimed.
Chandrasekhar also claimed to have presented other expensive gifts to Jacqueline Fernandez and her family. “As far as (her) parents are concerned, I gifted them a Maserati, and a Porsche to her mother in Bahrain. I also allowed Jacqueline to frequently use a private jet which I was using,” he said.
“I have gifted her 15 earrings, five Birkin bags and other bags from YSL, Gucci… I also gifted her Cartier bangles and Tiffany bracelets. These jewellery and earrings are diamond-studded and approximately Rs 7 crore,” he told the ED.