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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

ED expedites probe into Punjab drug haul

Pawan Sharma , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, April 03, 2013
First Published: 08:25 IST(3/4/2013) | Last Updated: 08:27 IST(3/4/2013)

The enforcement directorate (ED) has fast-tracked the probe into the money trail - in India as well as abroad   of Punjab's multi-crore drug haul case after receiving vital information from the Punjab Police on Tuesday.

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The Delhi-headquartered ED is a law-enforcement and economic intelligence agency under the department of revenue, union ministry of finance. Having the mandate to prevent and control money laundering, the ED registered a case last week in Jalandhar district under Section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, against under-arrest alleged drug peddler Anoop Singh Kahlon (an NRI) and his driver Kulwinder Singh, alias Rocky.

The ED's move to widen the ambit of the investigation assumes significance in the backdrop of the Punjab Police seizing 26-kg heroin from Kahlon and Rocky on March 3. The police probe points towards massive money laundering and hawala transactions - parking ill-gotten money illegally within and outside the country   in what is turning out to be an international drug racket spread across the UK, Canada and Netherlands.

So far, 15 persons, including two Canadian citizens and one UK national of Indian origin, have been arrested in this case, which has been in the limelight after Kahlon named Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Vijender Singh and fellow boxer Ram Singh as his "clients."

"Our investigation will primarily focus on ascertaining the magnitude of the ill-gotten money and how the proceeds of this crime were converted into white money," Karnal Singh, ED special director, told Hindustan Times here.

Karnal, a 1984-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the rank of additional director general of police (ADGP), said the ED investigation would look into how the accused obtained moveable and immovable assets and the link between their assets and the proceeds of the crime.

Under Section 4 of the Act, whoever commits the offence of money laundering can be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than three years and which can be extended to seven years. Under the Act, the property of the accused can also be confiscated.

The agency sleuths' probe will also focus on digging out since when the accused had been operating, the size of their operations within and outside the country, and the chain of narcotics supply from the main source to the last link.

The ED suo motu decided to lodge the case after taking cognisance of the police FIR and the initial probe pointing towards hawala transactions.

The state police have claimed that the value of drugs seized so far is more than Rs. 400 crore.

Terming the drug seizure "a big catch by the Punjab Police", the ED special director said both agencies (ED and police) would have to coordinate their efforts to smash the drug racket. Punjab is sharing information with us and we are hopeful of taking our investigation about the financial implications of this crime to its logical conclusion, ED sleuths said.

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