The ED will soon move to take possession of assets worth about Rs eight crore of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife after a special anti-money laundering court here confirmed the agency’s provisional order in this regard. The agency, in March this year, had ordered attachment of certain LIC policies, bank balances, a fixed deposit and two floors of a building in south Delhi’s posh GK-I area under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
“Considering the material in the original complaint, the replies and rejoinder and the arguments, I find that the properties provisionally attached in the name of D-2 (Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh) and D-1 (Virbhadra Singh) are involved in money laundering.
“I, therefore, hereby confirm the attachment of properties made under sub-section (1) of section 5 of PMLA.”
“I, therefore, order that the said attachment shall continue during the pendency of the proceedings relating to offence under the PMLA before a court and become final after an order of confiscation is passed under…. PMLA by the special court,” an order issued on September 14 by Tushar V Shah, Member (Law) of the Adjudicating Authority of PMLA, said.
The order, accessed by PTI, had examined the complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the Chief Minister and his wife and the statements made by various accused in the case including arrested LIC agent Anand Chauhan.
A provisional order for attachment of assets worth over RS 7.93 crore was issued by the ED on March 23 this year where it attached an entire basement and ground floor of a building in Greater Kailash-I in South Delhi in the name of Pratibha Singh and and a number of LIC policies, bank balances and a fixed deposit in her name and those in the name of her husband.
The ED, in its complaint filed under PMLA, has said that “it is evident from the flow of funds from redemption of LIC policies to the bank accounts and finally for the purchase of property, that Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh had indulged in possession of proceeds of crime in cash and in order to launder it showed it as its income from agriculture by filing revised returns and using fruit merchant business of Chunni Lal Chauhan of Universal Apple Associate”.
The agency had recently questioned Pratibha and the CM’s son Vikramaditya in this case.
The CM has denied allegations of any wrongdoing by him and his family.
An attachment order under PMLA is aimed at depriving the accused from obtaining benefits of their alleged ill-gotten wealth and such an order issued by the ED can be appealed before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act within 180 days.
Further, if the Adjudicating Authority also confirms the order, the accused can appeal against it before the Appellate Tribunal of the said Act within 45 days.
ED had filed a case under criminal provisions of the anti-money laundering law against the CM, his family members and others after taking cognisance of a complaint filed by the CBI in this regard in September last year.
It had also conducted searches in this case last year in Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal.
The agency is probing allegations against Singh and his family members of having amassed wealth of Rs 6.1 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income between 2009 and 2011 when he was the Union Minister of Steel.
The CBI’s First Information Report had named Singh, Pratibha, Chauhan and his brother C L Chauhan, who were all accused of violating the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The CBI FIR said that during 2009-11, Singh bought life insurance policies worth Rs 6.1 crore in his and his family members’ names through Anand Chauhan claiming the money came from his income from agriculture.