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ED chargesheets Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar in money-laundering case

The ED alleged that the Congress leader’s wealth grew exponentially during his two tenures as minister in Karnataka between 2004 and 2018.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party’s Karnataka unit president DK Shivakumar. (PTI, file)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday filed a prosecution complaint (equivalent to a chargesheet) against Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar in connection with a money-laundering case it registered against him in 2018. A former Karnataka minister, Shivakumar is currently out on bail in the case.

The ED arrested Shivakumar in September 2019 in the case, in which it had also arraigned as accused Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others. This criminal case was filed based on an Income Tax department chargesheet filed against Shivakumar and others before a court in Bengaluru for alleged tax evasion and hawala dealings.

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Shivakumar has in the past denied any wrongdoing and has said he was being targetted for having played an instrumental role in keeping the Congress flock together during Rajya Sabha polls in 2017. He had arranged the stay of 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat in a Karnataka resort when senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was contesting to secure a Rajya Sabha seat. Following this, I-T searches were conducted against him and the ED subsequently took action.

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Based on a reference sent by the ED, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2020 registered a case of disproportionate assets against Shivakumar.

The ED alleged that the Congress leader’s wealth grew exponentially during his two tenures as state minister between 2004 and 2018. The agency put under scanner various projects granted by the then Karnataka governments through the ministries of urban development and power when Shivakumar was a state minister.

Sources said that the ED investigations had found that a major part of Shivakumar’s over Rs 800-crore wealth was made during his tenure as minister in the urban development and power ministries in Karnataka.

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The agency, sources claimed, has found that multiple companies — some of them owned directly by Shivakumar — entered into agreements with firms that were granted projects by the state urban development ministry between 1999 and 2004. Shivakumar was then the minister of the urban department in the SM Krishna government.

Similarly, sources said, during his tenure as power minister between 2014 and 2018, Shivakumar’s wealth grew exponentially. Several projects undertaken by the government in this period and firms engaged in implementing them had been put under scanner by the ED.

The ED claimed to have found that several companies entered into land development agreements with firms that were granted urban development-related projects. Several suspected shell firms and contracts granted during the tenure of Shivakumar as power minister were also being probed.

Shivakumar, in his election affidavit in 2004, had declared a wealth of Rs 7 crore. This grew to more than Rs 800 crore in 2018. In fact, between 2013 and 2018, his wealth grew by over Rs 600 crore.

Shivakumar’s lawyer Parmatma Singh had earlier denied the allegations. “Except one or two properties, none of the properties mentioned in his election affidavit were bought during the periods when he was a state minister. This is only political propaganda. For a money laundering offence you need to have a scheduled offence. This case has started with an Income Tax raid. Sections invoked are all of Income Tax. Section 120 B of IPC was invoked and this has attracted the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act). So there is no substantive offence under PMLA. They are basically trying to create a disproportionate assets case. That never culls out of their own case. There is no charge of abuse of official position,” the lawyer had told The Indian Express.

Following his arrest in 2019, Shivakumar had tweeted: “I congratulate my BJP friends for finally being successful in their mission of arresting me. The IT and ED cases against me are politically motivated and I am a victim of BJP’s politics of vengeance and vendetta.”

He further said: “I appeal to my party cadre, supporters and well-wishers to not be disheartened as I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in God & in our country’s Judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics.”

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