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 20,2024

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Hopes are fading that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister have survived a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday after search teams located the wreckage.

"President Raisi's helicopter was completely burned in the crash ... unfortunately, all passengers are feared dead," the official told Reuters.

Rescue teams fought blizzards and difficult terrain through the night to reach the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province in the early hours of Monday.

“We can see the wreckage and the situation does not look good,” the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Pirhossein Kolivand, told state TV.

Raisi, 63, was elected president in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a crackdown US-Israel backed anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

A Turkish drone identified a source of heat suspected to be the helicopter's wreckage and had shared the coordinates of the possible crash site with Iranian authorities, Anadolu news agency said earlier on X.

State news agency IRNA said Raisi was flying in a US-made Bell 212 helicopter.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate power with a final say on foreign policy and Iran's nuclear programme, sought to reassure Iranians, saying there would be no disruption to state affairs.

The chief of staff of Iran's army ordered all resources of the army and the elite Revolutionary Guards to be put to use in search and rescue operations.

Earlier, the national broadcaster had stopped all regular programming to show prayers being held for Raisi across the country.

In the early hours of Monday, it showed a rescue team, wearing bright jackets and head torches, huddled around a GPS device as they searched a pitch-black mountainside on foot in a blizzard.

“We are thoroughly searching every inch of the general area of the crash," state media quoted a regional army commander as saying. "The area has very cold, rainy, and foggy weather conditions. The rain is gradually turning into snow."

Several countries expressed concern and offered assistance in any rescue.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on reports about the crash. China said it was deeply concerned. The European Union offered emergency satellite mapping technology.

Possible successor to Khamenei

The crash comes at a time of growing dissent within Iran over an array of political, social and economic crises. Iran's clerical rulers face international pressure over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme and its deepening military ties with Russia during the war in Ukraine.

Since Iran’s open support to Hamas’ resistance against Israeli aggression, US and Israel have harshly criticised the President Raisi. 

In Iran's dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi's 85-year-old mentor Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who holds decision-making power on all major policies.

For years many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi's main policies. Raisi's victory in 2021 elections brought all branches of power under the control of revolutionaries, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with powers including Washington.

Raisi had been at the Azerbaijani border on Sunday to inaugurate the Qiz-Qalasi Dam, a joint project. Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, who said he had bid a "friendly farewell" to Raisi earlier in the day, offered assistance in the rescue.

The chopper that was transporting President Raeisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and their companions encountered some difficulties and was forced to make a "hard landing".

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News Network
May 23,2024

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Bengaluru: JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Thursday issued a 'stern warning' to his grandson and suspended party MP, Prajwal Revanna, asking him to return to the country and face probe into sexual abuse allegations, while asserting there will be no interference from him or other family members into the enquiry.

He asked Prajwal, the party's Hassan MP who is facing allegations of sexual harassment of many women, to return to India and surrender before the police. Prajwal had flown reportedly to Germany in the last week of April.

The JD(S) supremo reiterated that his grandson should be given the harshest punishment under the law "if found guilty".

"At this juncture, I can do only one thing; I can issue a stern warning to Prajwal and ask him to return from wherever he is and surrender before the police. He should subject himself to the legal process," the 92-year-old veteran politician said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

Gowda made it clear it was "not an appeal that I am making, it is a warning that I am issuing".

"If he does not heed this warning, he will have to face my anger and anger of all his family members. The law will take care of the accusations against him, but not listening to the family will ensure his total isolation. If he has any respect left for me, he has to return immediately," Gowda said.

"I wish to also make it clear that I will ensure that there will be no interference in the enquiry against him from me or my family members. There is no emotion in this regard in my mind whatsoever, there is only the cause of justice for those who have suffered as a result of his alleged actions and misdeeds," the former PM added.

He recalled he had spoken to the media about Prajwal Revanna on May 18.

"It took me some time to recover from the shock and pain he (Prajwal) has inflicted on me, my entire family, my colleagues, friends and party workers. I have already said he should be given the harshest punishment under the law if found guilty," the nonagenarian leader said.

Stating that he was aware that people had spoken 'harshest' words against him and his family in the last few weeks, apparently over the issue, Gowda said he would not wish to stop them, criticise them and argue with them saying "that they should have waited until all the facts were found out".

He also cannot convince people that he was unaware of Prajwal's activities, or that he has no desire to shield him, unaware of his movements, and also about his foreign trip.

"I believe in answering to my conscience. I believe in God and I know the Almighty knows the truth," the JD(S) patriarch said.

He also opted "not to comment on political conspiracies, exaggerations, provocations and falsehoods that have been maliciously spread in recent weeks."

"I am very sure people who have done it will have to answer to God and pay for it heavily one day. I place my truth and my burdens at the feet of the Lord," he said.

The former Prime Minister underlined that it was of utmost importance for him to earn back the trust of the people.

"It is of utmost importance to me to earn back the trust of the people. They have stood by me for over 60 years of my political life and I am deeply indebted to them. As long as I am alive, I will never let them down," he said.

Prajwal, who is seeking re-election from Hassan as an NDA candidate, is absconding and is holed up abroad ever since a huge cache of explicit videos become public, showing women being sexually assaulted allegedly by him.

There are two rape cases registered against Prajwal. An arrest warrant has also been issued against him besides a blue corner notice by the Interpol.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has written to the Centre to cancel his diplomatic passport.

Prajwal’s father and Holenarasipura MLA H D Revanna is out on bail in two cases. One is related to molestation of a cook, who was also allegedly raped by Prajwal, and the other relates to the kidnap of a woman.

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News Network
May 27,2024

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre on Monday said the state government will settle Rs 80 lakh unpaid hotel bill of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's stay, who arrived in Mysuru in April last year to commemorate 50 years of Project Tiger, an event organised by the Union government's National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

He was speaking to reporters at his office about the non-payment of pending bills to Radisson Blu hotel. 

"The event to celebrate the 50 years of Project Tiger was organised by the NTCA at a time when Karnataka was under the model code of conduct in view of the Assembly elections. The state government did not take part in the event. The state, however, will foot the hotel bill," he said.

The celebration had cost a whopping Rs 6.33 crore but the NTCA had paid only Rs 3 crore. "The hotel wrote to the Forest Departments as the local officials helped NTCA in coordinating the programme. By paying the bill, we will put an end to the confusion," he said.

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