DK Shivakumar planned a criminal plot with helpers to hide money: ED
Karnataka Congress Leader DK Shivakumar ‘devised a well-planned criminal plot’ with four of his aides to allegedly hide crores worth unaccounted cash which were seized by the Income Tax Department returned to premises linked to it in 2017, ED said in a recent indictment filed against it under the anti-money laundering law.
The approximately 60-page complaint was filed by the federal agency in a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) tribunal in Delhi on May 24.
The case dates back to August 2017, when the IT department raided several premises in Delhi as part of an investigation for alleged tax evasion against Shivakumar, his alleged associate and liquor trader Sachin Narayan (45), a another associate Sunil Kumar Sharma (46) who operated a luxury bus fleet, A Hanumanthaiah, 49 year old employee of Karnataka Bhawan (Delhi) and former employee and state government guard stationed in Karnataka Bhawan Rajendra N (76).
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A total sum of over Rs 8.59 crore (Rs 8,59,69,100) was seized by the Revenue Service during the searches, of which over Rs 41 lakh has now been adjusted as tax liability of Shivakumar and over Rs 7.58 lakh as that of Sharma after claiming the money as farming income and business income respectively.
The IT department then filed a complaint in a Bengaluru court for tax evasion against all the defendants and the ED took notice of this complaint to file a money laundering case in 2018.
Shivakumar, after the computer raids, said in 2017 that his “key role” in ensuring the safe stay of Congress deputies from Gujarat at a resort in Karnataka during the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections, amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them, was the reason for the tax department’s action.
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Describing the role of Shivakumar, 60, a former cabinet minister from Karnataka, the ED said he was the “main defendant involved in the process/activity related to money laundering which converted his defiled money into undefiled money/property, etc. and devised a well-planned criminal conspiracy to conceal the source of this money entailed with the active participation and aid of other defendants”.
Shivakumar, he alleged, was “involved in directly or indirectly influencing witnesses, as A Hanumanthaiah and Rajendra N in their statements made during the computer search proceedings made it clear that the money seized belonged to DK Shivakumar”.
He said that the “fact about the ownership” of the money was also confirmed by them during a search procedure before the IT authorities and was well corroborated by the physical evidence, but later, after about seven months they retracted their statements and the retraction was filed by both on the same date without providing substituted and credible material for such retraction.”
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The ED said that “the purpose of the recantation is simply to create a legal facade during the prosecution proceedings before the special tribunal”.
The agency linked the other four defendants saying they “assisted” and “assisted” the congressional leader in “covering up” the proceeds of crime.
He said that Shivakumar “influenced his associates to confess his unaccounted money so that as a public official he would not be subject to the scrutiny of the law”.
Of the total cash seized, Rs 6,61,26,000 was recovered from the bedroom of an apartment in Delhi’s enclave area of Safdarjung and the ED said the room was ‘controlled’ by Shivakumar .
The apartment belonged to Sharma’s deceased brother and according to the indictment, the key to this room was found with Hanumanthaiah during the computer raids.
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The ED said Hanumanthaiah filed with the agency to state that Shivakumar ‘used to give him Rs 1-1.5 lakh every year’.
A Hanumanthaiah, he said, was “actively involved in handling the proceeds of crime from Shivakumar and was involved in the collection, storage and delivery of cash”.
Talking about Narayan, the ED indictment said he possessed Rs 1.37 crore recovered from his flat but ‘belongs’ to Shivakumar but could not substantiate the money generation with documentary evidence.
Narayan “offered” this amount to be taxed by IT authorities “to protect DK Shivakumar”, he alleged.
Making similar charges against Sharma, the ED said he “knowingly assisted DK Shivakumar in concealing the unaccounted money…” and claimed he was moving illegal money from Shivakumar so that he could be “used in political activities”.
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Shivakumar, according to the indictment, recorded his statement before the ED in 2019 stating that an amount of Rs 41,03,600 seized by tax authorities in Safdarjung enclave belonged to him and accrued from his income agricultural.
“When DK Shivakumar was asked about his farming activities, he could not even provide basic details of income, expenses, land details,” the ED said.
He said that during the proceedings before the IT department and the ED, the Congress leader “could not produce any evidence in support of Rs 40 lakh as farm income and it is established without any doubt that there is no other source of money than for the unaccounted money of DK Shivakumar”.
He said this money (over Rs 41 lakh) was “unaccounted for and accrued in Delhi as a result of the hawala activities of the co-accused on the instructions of Shivakumar”.