ED searches, attachment, convictions rose exponentially during Modi rule compared to UPA era

News Network
April 17, 2024

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New Delhi: Searches conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the anti-money laundering law rose by 86 times while arrests and attachment of assets jumped by around 25 times in the ten years since 2014 compared to the preceding nine-year period, according to official data.

An analysis of the data by PTI for the last ten years, between April 2014 and March 2024, against the nine years from July 2005 to March 2014 presents a picture of the federal agency's "intensified" action under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The PMLA was enacted in 2002 and implemented from July 1, 2005, to check serious crimes of tax evasion, generation of black money and money laundering.

While the opposition parties have alleged that the ED's action during the last decade was part of the BJP-led central government's "oppressive" tactics against its rivals and others, the Union government and the ruling party have asserted that the agency is independent and its investigations were purely based on merit and under the mandate to act against the corrupt.

The ED booked as many as 5,155 PMLA cases during the last ten years as compared to a total of 1,797 complaints or Enforcement Case Information Reports (ECIRs or FIRs) filed during the preceding period (2005-14), a jump of about three times, the data said.

The data shows that the agency also got its first conviction starting the 2014 fiscal and it has, till now, got 63 persons punished under the anti-money laundering law.

The ED conducted 7,264 searches or raids in money laundering cases across the country during the 2014-2024 period as compared to just 84 in the preceding period - a jump of 86 times.

It also arrested a total of 755 people during the last decade and attached assets worth Rs 1,21,618 crore as compared to 29 arrests and Rs 5,086.43 crore worth of attachments respectively during the last compared period, the data stated.

The arrests are 26 times more, while figures related to the attachment of properties are 24 times higher.

The agency issued 1,971 provisional attachment orders for various types of immovable and movable assets during the last decade as compared to 311 such orders taken out in the preceding comparable period.

It got about 84 per cent of the attachment orders confirmed from the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA during 2014-24 as compared to 68 per cent confirmations from the same authority during the last compared period.

The filing of charge sheets also saw a jump of 12 times in the last decade with 1,281 prosecution complaints filed by it before courts as against 102 during the preceding period.

The data said the ED secured conviction orders in 36 cases from various courts leading to the prosecution of 63 persons and a total of 73 charge sheets were disposed of during the last decade.

No conviction was obtained by the agency nor any charge sheet was disposed of under the anti-money laundering law during the 2005-14 period, according to the statistics.

The agency also got the court's permission to confiscate assets (attached as proceeds of crime under the PMLA) worth Rs 15,710.96 crore and it also restituted properties (including bank funds) of Rs 16,404.19 crore (out of the total amount under confiscation) during the last decade.

As there were no convictions during the preceding nine-year period, no confiscation of assets and resultant restitution could take place, as per the data.

The ED is also empowered to seize cash under the PMLA and the data said the agency froze more than Rs 2,310 crore worth of Indian and foreign currency during the last ten years as compared to a figure of Rs 43 lakh during the preceding period.

The agency also got notified a total of 24 Interpol red notices for apprehension of various accused who left India and hid in foreign shores and sent 43 extradition requests during 2014-24.

No such action was taken by the agency during the preceding period.

Four persons were extradited to India during the last ten-year time period while similar orders were secured against businessmen Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Sanjay Bhandari. The three are based in the UK and the ED is trying to bring them back to the country as all the accused are contesting the orders issued against them.

"These statistics reflect the intensive drive that the ED has undertaken to check money laundering crimes," an agency official said.

The ED investigates financial crimes under two criminal laws -- the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA) -- apart from the civil provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The FEOA was enacted by the Narendra Modi government in 2018 to cripple those who are charged with high-value economic frauds and abscond from the country to evade the law.

The ED, as per the data, filed a total of 19 such applications before the designated special PMLA courts in the country following which 12 persons have been declared fugitive economic offenders.

It also confiscated assets worth Rs 906 crore under the said law by the end of the last fiscal on March 31.

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News Network
May 22,2024

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Udupi: A teenage boy, identified as Nithin, ended his life by suicide after reportedly being humiliated by the head teacher of his school. The incident occurred two days ago, and the police have yet to take action against the accused.

Nithin, 16, a resident of Shiroor in Byndoor, had gone to his government high school on May 18 to collect his Transfer Certificate (TC) after completing his SSLC. However, not only was his request for the TC denied, but he was also allegedly insulted by the head teacher.

On May 20, Nithin informed his father, Nagaraj, about his intention to visit the school to collect the TC. Tragically, between 12 noon and 12:30 pm, when no one was at home, Nithin hanged himself. In his death note, he accused the head teacher of insulting him and refusing to issue the TC, which led to his decision to end his life.

A case has been registered by the Byndoor police under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC. Nithin's family members staged a protest in front of the Byndoor police station on Tuesday, demanding the arrest of those responsible for his suicide.

DySP of Kundapura Belliappa, probationary IPS officer Dr. Harsha Priyamvada, and Byndoor CI Savitra Tez held discussions with the public, assuring them that investigations are underway and that the case is being taken seriously. They promised that a suitable report would be published within a week following further investigation and interrogation. They also assured that stringent action would be taken against the culprits if sufficient evidence is found.

Village elders, social leaders, and locals provided support to Nithin's grieving family. His mortal remains were later taken home for the final rites.

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News Network
May 22,2024

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New Delhi: Acting on a one-month-old notice it sent to the BJP on complaints over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s provocative and communal remarks, the Election Commission of India on Wednesday directed the saffron party’s star campaigners not to make speeches along 'religious/communal lines' and desist from statements that may 'divide the society'.

Separately, it also asked the Congress' star campaigners not to give 'false impression' of abolishing or selling the Constitution, make speeches that create 'mutual hatred or cause tension' between religious or linguistic communities or 'potentially divisive statements' regarding the socio-economic composition of the armed forces.

The EC’s letters to BJP president JP Nadda and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge conveying its directions came 27 days after it issued separate notices to them on complaints against Modi, Kharge and Rahul Gandhi. Though the complaints were annexed in the notice that were sent to party chiefs and not the alleged violators, the names of violators were not mentioned.

It also comes ten days before the seven-phased elections are ending on June 1 though the notices were issued a day before the second phase of polls on April 25. While Nadda had responded to the letter on May 13 after seeking two extensions, Kharge submitted his arguments on May 6 after seeking one extension. They were initially given time till April 29.

In its letter to Nadda, the EC said he has not denied the utterances mentioned in the Congress complaint though it 'stoutly defended' the campaign methods and remarks while invoking a 'unilateral drawing of inferences and interpretations' of star campaigners of opponents. It said its star campaigners continued with objectionable utterances even after the April 25 notice.

The latest communication came against the backdrop of complaints by Congress and other parties which referred to Modi’s speech in Banswara as “communal” where he spoke about Congress seeking to redistribute people’s wealth to “infiltrators”, in a veiled reference to Muslims, and that women’s ‘mangalsutras’ will be snatched.

Emphasising that Nadda’s defence was 'not tenable', the EC said, 'directs you as party president to also convey to all star campaigners to not make speeches and statements, which may divide the society. Directs BJP and its star campaigners to refrain from any campaigning methods/utterances along religious/communal lines'.

In its letter to Kharge, the EC said Kharge too has justified Congress star campaigners’ contentious remarks while claiming that the complaint had 'wilfully extracted only specific portions, devoid of context, to mislead the Commission'. Kharge also claimed that the BJP leaders were making 'motivated statements' invoking religious sentiments to attract voters.

The EC, which had taken cognisance of complaints against Kharge and Rahul, said the assertion of Congress’ star campaigners about the BJP attempting to change the Constitution was allegedly instilling fear in the minds of voters about an uncertain future and an attempt to spread anarchy in the country and could be considered as “corrupt practice” under election laws.

While insisting that it cannot accept the Congress arguments and find it untenable, the EC directed Kharge to convey to all star campaigners that they do not make statements which give a 'false impression such as the Constitution of India may be abolished or sold'.

Amid the Congress making a campaign point on the controversial Agniveer scheme, it also directed him to convey to star campaigners that they should not indulge in political propaganda involving the military and not make 'potentially divisive statements' regarding socio-economic composition of defence forces.

Both the party presidents to ensure that star campaigners refrain from making any statement that may “aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic”.

The EC also referred to controversial statements after the April 25 notice by star campaigners from both sides in its letters, referring to complaints and counter complaints.

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News Network
May 19,2024

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Mangaluru: Disgruntled BJP leader and former MLA K Raghupathi Bhat, who is contesting the legislative council election as an independent candidate from the South West Graduates constituency, said the BJP has adopted the “godfather culture” of the Congress.

Bhat told reporters here on Saturday, that he has not tried to appease any senior BJP leaders to get a party ticket to contest the MLC poll.

“I am contesting and seeking votes based on my achievements. My contesting may have a negative impact on the BJP. However, I want to go back to the BJP after winning this election,” Bhat said, and refused to answer the actual reason for the denial of a BJP ticket to him.

“I have no idea who played from behind that I was denied a ticket for the MLC poll.

Earlier, the BJP had a culture of selecting candidates for MLA and MLC polls by seeking the opinion of party workers at the booth level, followed by discussions at mandal and district levels.

Now the situation is such that even if one person’s name was sent from the state, the final list will be different. The godfather culture of the Congress has stretched into our party too. Only those who appease leaders get a ticket in the BJP. However, I have not appeased any leader. I believe in the support of party workers, and with this confidence I am contesting the election,” Bhat said.

To a query, Bhat said that he has not contacted by BJP leaders after deciding to contest the MLC poll.

“I have already requested all leaders that I should get the party’s Form B to contest the MLC poll from the South West Graduates constituency. I have told them that I am also contesting as an independent candidate on behalf of the BJP. The ultimate aim of my contesting the election is that senior leaders should know the injustice that honest party workers are facing in the BJP,” he said.

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