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Money-laundering: ED attaches Rs 8-crore assets of Virbhadra

Money-laundering: ED attaches Rs 8-crore assets of Virbhadra
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday issued orders for the attachment of assets of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh worth Rs 8 crore, including a flat in a posh locality here, in connection with its money-laundering probe against him and others.

The agency issued a provisional attachment order, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), seizing a clutch of LIC policies, bank fixed deposits and two storeys of a building in South Delhi’s GK-I area. Official sources said the assets have been considered the “proceeds of crime” of money laundering and were created by using alleged tainted funds. The agency, sources said, has also issued prohibitory orders on these assets which are “valued at Rs 7.93 crore”. 

An attachment order under PMLA is aimed at depriving the accused from obtaining benefits of their alleged ill-gotten wealth and the accused parties can appeal against the order before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act within 180 days. 

However, an unfazed Virbhadra Singh dubbed as a “Holi gift” the ED order and that it was a “dirty political conspiracy of the BJP”.

“It is one more dirty political conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Like the ED raid on the day of my daughter’s marriage, this is a gift on the occasion of Holi,” the Himachal Pradesh CM tweeted.

Insisting that he is a fighter, Virbhadra said that he would continue to fight such politically-motivated battles. 

“I have full faith in the judiciary of the country. Satyamev Jayate,” he added.

Recently, the Delhi high court had refused to grant any interim stay on money-laundering proceedings initiated by the Directorate against the Chief Minister.

Justice Pratibha Rani had issued a notice to the ED, seeking its response before May 31 on Virbhadra’s plea, seeking stay on the proceedings and quashing of the money-laundering case against him.

The ED has filed a case under criminal provisions of money-laundering laws, after taking cognisance of a complaint filed by the CBI in this regard in September last year. It had also conducted searches in this regard in Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal in 2015.

The agency is working to investigate the allegation that Singh and his family members allegedly amassed wealth worth Rs 6.1 crore between 2009 and 2011, disproportionate to his known sources of income, while serving as the Union Minister of Steel.

The Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) FIR had named Virbhadra Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, LIC agent Anand Chauhan and Chauhan’s brother CL Chauhan and they were charged under thePrevention of Corruption Act. The CBI suspects that during 2009-11, Singh had allegedly invested Rs 6.1 crore in life insurance policies in his and his family members’ names through LIC agent Chauhan, claiming this money to be his agricultural income.

It alleged Singh attempted to legitimise the same as agricultural income by filing revised Income-Tax returns in 2012.

“The agricultural income as claimed by him in his revised ITRs was not found to be tenable. The then Union minister had allegedly accumulated other assets disproportionate to known sources of income,” CBI had alleged. 

The CBI had also carried out searches at various premises belonging to Singh and family immediately after filing the FIR and the Congress party had then termed the action as “highly vindictive”.

The ED has registered its case in Delhi.
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