The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) today (October 10) took possession of 15 immovable properties belonging to A Raja, a senior DMK leader and former cabinet minister in the Congress-led UPA government in a disproportionate assets case.
The immovable properties, registered under the name of his benami company, Kovai Shelters Promoters India Privatet Ltd, have been seized under the provisions of the Prevention of Money-Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).
Provisional Attachment In December 2022
In Dec 2022, the ED announced that it has provisionally attached 45 acres of land in Coimbatore District held in the name of a benami company operated by A Raja.
During the course of its investigation under the PMLA Act, the ED established that A Raja, during his tenure as Union Minister of Environment and Forests (2004 to 2007) granted environmental clearances to a Gurugram based real-estate company.
While ED did not name the company in its statement (even though it mentioned it as one of the largest real estate companies in the country and listed on BSE), according to the sources close to the investigations, the transactions pertain to DLF.
In October 2022, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheeted Raja, who is also currently the Nilgiris MP, in a disproportionate assets case that it registered in 2015.
In its charges filed before the Special Court in Chennai, CBI alleged that C Krishnamurthy, a close associate of Raja, had set up a company named Kovai Shelters Promoters in 2007 and payments to the tune of Rs 4.56 crore were received in February that year from DLF as commission for the purchase of land in Kanchipuram.
According to the ED statement issued today (10 October), the real-estate company paid kickback to Raja as a quid pro quo for awarding the environmental clearance in the year 2007.
The kickback money was routed to a benami company controlled by Raja and shown in the books as land commission income.
"It is found that Raja incorporated the company in the same year 2007 in the name of his family members and his close family friend, with the sole objective of using it as a vehicle to park the proceeds of crime." the ED noted.
The benami company was never engaged in any business activity since inception and the entire money received in the company was quid pro quo from the Real Estate Deal and was used for acquiring land in Coimbatore District, the ED further said.
"Thus, The properties 45 acres of land in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, worth Rs.55 Crore) have been purchased directly using the proceeds of crime, (illegal payment made as quid pro quo for obtaining Environmental Clearances) have been provisionally attached by the Directorate. Further, investigation in the case in under progress." ED said in its statement.
In October 2022, the CBI filed a charge sheet against Raja for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 5.53 crore during his tenure as Union minister.
In its charge sheet filed before a Special CBI court in Chennai, the agency has alleged that a close associate of Raja, C Krishnamurthy, had set up a company Kovai Shelters Promoters in January, 2007 in which a payment of Rs 4.56 crore was received in February that year from a Gurugram-based real estate company as commission for purchase of land in Kanchipuram.
It is alleged that the payment was not for the land deal but a quid pro quo for giving the real estate firm the status of an infrastructure company by Raja during his tenure as Union minister, they said.
In the charge sheet filed in August this year, the CBI has alleged that the company had not 'undertaken any other real estate activity' other than the purported land deal for the real estate firm.
The company had later bought agricultural land in Coimbatore.
The agency has alleged that that as minister Raja had garnered assets worth Rs 5.53 crore, including the payment of Rs 4.56 crore to the company in which Raja's close relatives were directors, which he could not satisfactorily account for, they said.
The CBI has alleged assets in question were disproportionate to the tune of 579 per cent from his known sources of income, they said.
The CBI registered the disproportionate assets case against the former Minister and 16 others, including his family members and associates, on 18 August 2015.
The case was registered against A Raja's nephew Parmesh, wife Parameswari (since deceased), his associate Krishnamurthy who is also director of Kovai Shelters Pvt Limited, wife of Sadiq Basha, an alleged associate of Raja who had committed suicide, and Reha Banu, a director in Greenhouse Promoters which was earlier owned by Basha among others.
The agency accused them of accumulating disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 27.92 crore.
Based on preliminary investigation, the agency said the wealth was disproportionate to his known income sources during the check period October 1999-September 2010.
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