Almost a year after giving clean chit to Congress MLA from Kalina Kripashankar Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has decided to renew its probe and investigate if some interest-free loans received by the Congress leader had any link with money laundering.
The additional solicitor general, Darius Khambata, on Thursday assured the Bombay high court that the agency will investigate if any offence had taken place in transfer of the interest-free loans and if it was a scheduled offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The assurance came after the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice DG Karnik questioned him: “What about the so-called interest-free loans?” The income tax (I-T) department, which has completed its probe into the assets held by the Congress leader and his family members, had stumbled upon the interest-free loans during the course of its investigation.
It is, however, not clear as to how much amount had been transferred to Singh’s account by way of the interest-free loans, as Khambata submitted the I-T investigation report to the court in a sealed cover.
The judges also suggested that the ED should also probe if the funds were connected with any of the accused involved in offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. To this, Khambata said that though the source of the interest-free loans had been identified, the ED will further probe the matter to ascertain if the funds were proceeds of any crime.
During course of hearing on a Public Interest Litigation filed by city-resident Sanjay Tiwari, the judges also asked why the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had not so far registered any offence against Singh. Advocate general Ravi Kadam answered the query stating the ACB had prima facie found a case of disproportionate assets against Singh and his wife. He clarified that an opportunity is given to the public servant to explain the assets allegedly disproportionate to his known sources of income before registering an FIR.
The couple would be given an opportunity to explain their allegedly excess assets of about Rs1.81 crore, Kadam added.
Tiwari had sought setting up of a special investigating team to probe alleged accumulation of unaccounted wealth by Singh and his family members. He had listed numerous immovable properties purchased by the Congress leader and his family members, and cash transactions running into crores of rupees reflected in their bank accounts.
Replying to the PIL, the ED had in March last year informed the high court that it had found no direct evidence linking Singh to the Madhu Koda money laundering scam.
The division bench directed the three agencies — ED, ACB and I-T department — to share their reports, conduct further probe, and submit another report by April 28.