Hyderabad: Actor Navdeep on Monday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to a drugs case that has rocked Tollywood in 2017.
The actor reached the ED office at 10.30 a.m. in response to the summons issued by the agency. He was seen holding some papers in his hands and they are believed to be related to his financial transactions.
After a gap of three days, the ED officials resumed questioning in a money-laundering probe in connection with a high-end drugs racket busted by Telangana’s prohibition and excise department.
Navdeep is the seventh person from Telugu film industry to appear before the ED since it began questioning on August 31.
Actor Ravi Teja and his driver and aide Srinivas had appeared before the ED officials on September 9. Navdeep is considered a close friend of Ravi Teja.
Director Puri Jagannadh and actors Charmee Kaur, Rakul Preet Singh, Nandu and Daggubati Rana were other Tollywood personalities questioned. They were all grilled for 8-10 hours each.
The questioning was believed to be around their suspicious financial transactions with those involved in the drug case.
General manager of a private club also appeared for questioning on Monday.
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 also questioned prime accused Calvin Mascarenhas and two other accused Abdul Quddus and Abdul Wahed.
Actors Mumaith Khan, Tanish, Nandu and Tarun have also been summoned by the ED in connection with the drugs racket which was busted with the arrest of drug peddlers in 2017.
Rana and Rakul Preet did not figure in the list of Tollywood celebrities questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Telangana’s prohibition and excise department in 2017.
However, Rakul Preet was questioned by the Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai, last year in an alleged drugs nexus in Bollywood.
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.
The excise department had constituted SIT for a comprehensive probe. A total of 12 cases were registered, 30 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 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 questioning and sent them for analysis.
The SIT filed chargesheet in eight out of 12 cases. It, however, gave clean chit to the film personalities who were questioned as part of the investigation.