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ED raids over 100 spots in 17 states in op against shell cos

The Enforcement Directorate(ED) on Saturday conducted nationwide searches at over 100 locations as part of its major crackdown on 500 shell companies suspected to be generating huge amounts of black money. The raid operations across 17 states began early in the morning with ED sleuths swooping down at market places, business centres, residential premises and even houses put up on rent to hunt down the allegedly dubious and suspicious firms which the agency believes are the "backbone" of black money in the country.

ED teams had visited at least 110 locations in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Panaji, Kochi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Srinagar, Indore and some in Haryana. The agency said it searched a Mumbai-based operator who was running 700 shell companies with 20 dummy directors and had "converted Rs 46.7 crore for Chaggan Bhujbal", the jailed ex-Maharashtra deputy chief minister.

The central probe agency, which has a total strength of about 800 officers and staff at its various regional and zonal offices in the country, was virtually out on the field to undertake one of the biggest operations in the country against shell firms. The drive was part of a recent PMO directive to check the illegal operations of these companies.
"The operations are based on various investigations done by the agency and some others as part of their anti-black money crackdown charter," said ED Director Karnal Singh. He said the operations were continuing late into the night.

ED teams also visited those who are allegedly connected to some of the most prominent corruption and black money cases being probed in the country at present. The agency said it recovered documents and raided those dubious firms which were "used in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam to launder proceeds of crime."
It said the action was carried out against those operators allegedly used by ex-Noida Chief Engineer Yadav Singh "to convert his illegal wealth".
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