The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued an order to provisionally attach two dozen properties and freeze bank accounts of companies promoted by 2G scam-accused businessmen Shahid Usman Balwa and Pramod Goenka.
They are charged with paying a Rs 200-crore bribe to Kalaignar TV, run by the DMK, whose leader A Raja was telecom minister when the scam took place. Balwa and Goenka are believed to have got 2G licences in lieu of the alleged kickback. This is the first time that property is being attached in the 2G scam investigation.
The CBI in its chargesheet had alleged that the bribe was given by Swan Telecom (now Etisalat DB) to Kalaignar TV through a number of intermediary companies in the garb of loans or share application money. When the CBI started the investigation, the money was returned by Kalaignar TV.
Once the CBI identified Rs 200 crore paid by the DB Group of companies to Kalaignar TV as a bribe, the ED stepped into the picture as it is vested with powers to attach crime proceeds under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has concurred with the CBI that the movement of bribe money under the garb of loans or share application money does not substantiate a genuine and bonafide financial transaction.
The order issued by ED deputy director Prabhakant will be submitted in the PMLA Adjudication Authority, which has to affirm it. The ED will have to file a separate chargesheet under the PMLA in the designated court in this regard.
If the court, pronounces a judgment in favour of the ED, the probe agency will take over the properties and dispose of them to recover the bribe amount.