July 1, 2022 11:07:43 am
Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar will appear before a special court in Delhi on Friday in the wake of a summons issued in May this year for the appearance of the former state minister and four others named by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in a 2018 money laundering case.
The ED filed a chargesheet against Shivakumar in the case on May 26 this year following which the court took cognisance of it and issued a summons for his appearance on July 1.
“From the material which has come on record, statements under Section 50 of the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), there is sufficient material on record to take cognisance of the offence under section 3 (offence of money laundering) read with section 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the PMLA as all the accused persons knowingly assisted pursuant to criminal conspiracy in the concealment possession of proceeds of crime i.e. unaccounted cash or in projecting it as their lawful business income,” the special court ruled on May 31.
“I am also satisfied that offence under Section 3 of PMLA is made out solely on the basis of Section 120-B IPC (criminal conspiracy) being a scheduled offence and other offences of the Income Tax Act, 1961 not being scheduled offences,” the special court ruled.
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Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar and four others – Sachin Narayan, Sunil Sharma, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah and Rajendra N – were investigated by the ED following a preliminary complaint filed in 2018 on the basis of a 2017 income tax department investigation into the income and assets of the Congress leader.
Following its investigations, the ED filed a prosecution complaint against Shivakumar on May 26 alleging that he, as a Congress minister in Karnataka, generated a huge amount of illegal wealth and that the wealth was hidden away through a “criminal conspiracy” with associates. The conspiracy involved tax evasion and storing of cash in Delhi, the ED has alleged.
Unaccounted cash of Rs 8.59 crore that was found at various properties in New Delhi belonging to Shivakumar’s associates in 2017 has been linked by the ED to the money laundering conspiracy. Two of the accused, Anjaneya and Rajendra, have told the central agency that Rs 6.6 crore that was seized from a flat was brought on the orders of D K Shivakumar. It is alleged that the flat where the money was found was being used by the Congress leader and Sunil Sharma to store cash.
The ED has concluded in its chargesheet that Shivakumar’s associates assisted him “in laundering unaccounted cash by providing their premises/transporting money/ projecting the tainted money as a part of their business”.
Shivakumar was arrested by the ED in September 2019 in connection with the case on the basis of an income tax department investigation of his wealth, conducted between 2017 and 2018. He was released on bail in October 2019 and was appointed Karnataka Congress chief in March 2020.
The filing of the chargesheet after nearly three years of investigations has come in the run-up to the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls in which Shivakumar is expected to play a central role as the state Congress chief. “There is a legal system in the country. There is the law of the land – there is justice, ethics, truth, and dharma and I have faith in these things. I know I have not done anything wrong and the state knows it and the country knows,” Shivakumar said after the ED chargesheet.
“This is being done with a political agenda. During the election of Ahmed Patel (to the Rajya Sabha in August 2017) they raided my home and linked the income of some of my friends to me. I wish them all success,” the KPCC chief had said in May.
The ED’s PMLA case against Shivakumar has origins in IT searches carried out between August 2, 2017 and August 5, 2017 at some 70 premises linked to the Congress leader, who was then the energy minister in the Congress government in Karnataka. The searches were carried out even as Shivakumar was protecting a flock of 42 Congress MLAs from Gujarat in a resort near Bengaluru in an attempt to help senior Gujarat Congress leader Ahmed Patel win the Rajya Sabha polls that were scheduled on August 8 amid alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.
Based on the searches in 2017, the income tax department filed a complaint of tax evasion and false evidence against Shivakumar in 2018, specifically on the finding of Rs 8.59 crore in cash at four Delhi properties linked to associates.
The CBI also registered a corruption case against Shivakumar following the 2017 income tax probe which alleged that the Congress leader had amassed Rs 74.93 crore of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income during the period from April 2013 to April 2018 when he was a minister. The CBI case is still under investigation.
Shivakumar reported a massive Rs 589 crore increase in his wealth (from Rs 251 crore to Rs 840 crore) over a five-year period between 2013 and 2018 in an affidavit filed at the time of his nomination for the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls. The Congress leader has attributed the growth in his family wealth to his businesses, ranging from mining to real estate.
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