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Rs 200 crore in dubious wealth pool

Bihar police have traced ill-gotten assets worth over Rs 200 crore of people involved in unlawful activities.

Last week’s search operation carried out by the state police’s economic offences unit (EOU) crossed the mark of ill-gotten wealth of Rs 200 crore.

The raid was conducted on the office and the residential premises of an Industrial Training Institute’s instructor, Satyendra Kumar, in Patna and Bhojpur, yielding property worth Rs 2.26 crore beyond his known source of income.

The seizure of such a huge amount of ill-gotten wealth has prompted the state government to exert pressure on its long-pending demand from the Centre to empower the state police to investigate the cases registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The state police till date have no legal authority to deal with PMLA cases.

The data available at the police headquarters revealed that 39 cases have been recommended to the regional office of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for initiating the process of attachment of property amassed through illegal means. However, the properties of two accused, Ritlal Yadav and Suresh Nat, have so far been attached under the PMLA.

Sources said the ED has till date, registered cases against seven persons under the relevant sections of the PMLA on the recommendation of the Bihar police. The ED issued lockdown orders on these assets advising people not to enter into any business of renting, purchasing or acquiring these properties.

The ED, which is empowered to probe the cases registered under PMLA across the country, is overburdened and finding it difficult to deal with such a large number of financial crime cases reported from Bihar. Sources said 13 more cases were in the pipeline and they would be handed over to the ED shortly, taking the number to 52 by the end of this financial year.

Director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand, who is also the in-charge of the EOU, said the suspected properties had been obtained by “criminal proceeds of crime”. The assets, including land, flats, shops, jewelleries, bank deposits, were located in and outside the state. “We are working in tandem with other agencies to nail the corrupt,” he added.

The dubious wealth, a little over Rs 200 crore amassed through illegal means had been discovered in the past one year after the government gave its go-ahead to form the EOU under the DGP’s control.

Under the PMLA, once the Adjudicating Authority of Prevention of the Money Laundering Act confirmed ED’s provisional attachment, the property can be freed only after the permission of a superior court such as high court or the Supreme Court.

Recently, the government decided to attach the property of the people indulging in amassing property through immoral trafficking. The ED under the provisions of PMLA confiscated the property of Suresh Nat, a resident of Begusarai, after he was charged with accumulating assets through human tracking.

The police created a history of sorts by getting over 87,000 criminals, including politicians and lawmakers, convicted and punished since January 2006 for indulging in unlawful activities.