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ED to investigate the slum rehabilitation scam

The agency has written to the ACB asking for details on the scam, reports Manish Pachouly.

india Updated: Dec 20, 2006 20:36 IST

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) now wants to lay its hands on the slum rehabilitation scam that is being investigated by the Mumbai unit of the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The ED authorities have written a letter to the ACB, about a week back, asking for information on the scam and the accused in the three cases they are investigating. The ACB is investigating two cases of Borivali societies and one of Andheri.

When asked Additional Commissioner, ACB Mumbai Unit, Dr Pradnya Saravade confirmed that they have received the letter from the ED.

An ED officer, on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said that the department intends to probe the money-laundering angle in the scam. "We want to investigate the case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as it involves a huge black money," said the ED officer.

The ED authorities feel that the money earned from this scam could have found place in some business. "If we find a scope for money laundering in criminal cases investigated by other agencies, we seek information from them to carry out investigation from our angle simultaneously," the officer said.

The ED had taken similar step in the case pertaining to the mysterious parcel that came on actress Aishwarya Rai’s name from Netherlands. The parcel contained 23,000 euros that was not declared. The ED has sought information from the customs to start their own investigation under PMLA or Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), whichever fits in the case.

ED officers said that initially they would concentrate on the diversion of scam money. "We won’t question the accused in the case immediately. That would be done after our ground level investigation is over," the officer said.

But there is a doubt within the department if the SRA scam can find a place under the PMLA. An ED officer said that there is a list of statutes mentioned in "scheduled offences" that can attract PMLA. "In that list section 7 to 10 of Prevention of Corruption Act has been mentioned, all of which deals with bribe.

The SRA cases are not registered under these sections, they are registered under criminal misconduct which is different," the officer said.

But another lot believes that ED can investigate the case under section 3 of PMLA which deals with laundering of proceeds of crime by projecting it as untainted property.

Meanwhile, Saravade said that the ACB has not yet given any information to the ED. "We would be discussing with them as to under which section of PMLA will they be investigating the matter," said Saravade, probably hinting at the confusion.

E-mail: manish.pachouly@hindustantimes.com