ED attaches chimpanzees, marmosets under money laundering probe in Bengal
An attachment by the ED renders an asset out of bounds for its owner and it can be further confiscated by the agency after the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA, a quasi-judicial body, approves the attachment within 180 days.Updated: Sep 21, 2019 21:34 IST
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has provisionally attached three chimpanzees and four marmosets as part of a money laundering probe against an alleged wildlife smuggler of West Bengal, the probe agency said in a statement Saturday.
The anti-money laundering probe agency said in a statement that the first of its kind attachment under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has enabled zoo authorities in Kolkata to retain the animals as the alleged smuggler, Supradip Guha, was trying to take them away.
An attachment by the ED renders an asset out of bounds for its owner and it can be further confiscated by the agency after the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA, a quasi-judicial body, approves the attachment within 180 days.
The case pertains to West Bengal government’s complaint against Guha for illegal possession of wild animals.
The ED said the state police had booked Guha for forgery after he was found using a forged permission letter to illegally transport the animals purportedly issued by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal.
The ED statement said its probe found Guha was running an organised wildlife smuggling racket.
“He recorded contradictory statements before the customs authorities and wildlife authorities to evade action from both the departments,” the agency has alleged.
“Guha also obtained fake certificates regarding birth of the three chimpanzees in India,” ED said.
The zoo authorities had requested the ED action enabling them to retain the wild animals.
“Supradip Guha was attempting to take back the wildlife from the zoo by claiming right over them by using false statements and documents as aforesaid however the actions by ED has frustrated his efforts,” it said.
The three chimpanzees have become a major point of attraction for the visitors of the Alipore zoological garden in Kolkata and hence, a source of revenue too, the agency said.
It said the seven animals are valued at Rs 81 lakh, with each chimpanzee worth Rs 25 lakh and a marmoset, a species of small long-tailed South American monkeys, about Rs 1.5 lakh.
First Published: Sep 21, 2019 18:45 IST