Mr.Verma is now in the Tihar jail in connection with multiple cases registered by the CBI
The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday seized 36 expensive paintings, including works believed to be of M.F. Husain, in searches on the Delhi premises associated with businessman Abhishek Verma.
He is now in the Tihar Central Jail in connection with multiple cases registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The agency earlier registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In October last, investigations led to provisional attachment of 16 wristwatches of foreign make, worth Rs.44 lakh, allegedly belonging to Mr. Verma and his wife Anca Maria Neacsu.
The watches were earlier seized by the CBI as case property.
Further probe into the same case on Saturday resulted in searches on the premises of a Vasant Kunj farmhouse — reportedly taken on rent by a company named Ganton India — where Mr. Verma and Anca were living when they were arrested by the CBI two years ago. His wife was earlier a director in the firm, the CBI said.
The ED teams also searched the premises of his mother and close friend.
The operation led to the seizure of 36 paintings. The agency has also seized a Rolex watch.
Evaluation of seized articles
The agency would now get the seized articles evaluated and ascertain whether they can legally be described as proceeds of crime as defined under the PMLA.
Accordingly, proceedings for formal attachment of the “proceeds of crime” would be initiated.
The ED registered the PMLA case against Mr. Verma, based on a CBI case against him and his wife for allegedly receiving $5,30,000 from the Swiss defence equipment supplier Rheinmetall Air Defence AG, through the U.S.-based front company Ganton Limited, to stall its blacklisting by bribing public servants in India.
ED officials visited the U.S. several months ago to record the statements of attorney C. Edmonds Allen, president of Ganton Limited and the estranged business partner of Mr. Verma, who has lodged multiple complaints against him with the Indian agencies. However, Mr. Verma has denied all charges, saying Mr.Allen has made false accusations against him.