Senthilbalaji played a pivotal role in cash-for-jobs scam, says ED

The Enforcement Directorate opposes the jailed former Minister’s plea for discharge from the money laundering case

March 04, 2024 07:20 pm | Updated 07:20 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed jailed MLA and former Minister V. Senthilbalaji’s plea for discharge from the money laundering case and dismissed his contention that the case filed against him is devoid of merit.

Mr. Senthilbalaji was arrested by ED in June 2023 in connection with a money laundering case that arose from a cash-for-jobs scam case by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of the Greater Chennai Police (GCP). The alleged scam occurred when he was Transport Minister between 2011-15 during the AIADMK regime. Later, he joined the DMK and became Minister for Electricity and Prohibition. Mr. Senthilbalaji has been lodged at the Central Prison in Puzhal and has filed a petition seeking discharge from the case when the court was about to take up framing charges against him.

On Monday, when the case was taken up for hearing by Principal Sessions Judge S. Alli, a counter affidavit was filed by special public prosecutor N. Ramesh on behalf of Karthi Dasari, Deputy Director, ED. In it, the ED said Mr. Senthilbalaji played a pivotal role, exploiting his official capacity as the then Transport Minister for personal gain through corrupt and illegal means.

“He directly acquired illicit proceeds resulting from criminal activities linked to the scheduled offences. He colluded with co-conspirators, including his brother R.V. Ashok Kumar, personal assistants, and officials from the Transport Department, to orchestrate a strategy. Despite denial of his connections with his personal assistants Shanmugam and Karthikeyan in his statement, investigation findings decisively established his involvement with the duo, who were engaged by the petitioner (Mr. Senthilbalaji) for the criminal activity,” the counter affidavit read.

The ED said evidence unquestionably demonstrates that the conspiracy to exchange cash for job selections, which the former Minister claimed ignorance of, was conceived and executed under his directions and authority. Proceeds from criminal activities were then laundered, involving layering and integration into the mainstream, through cash deposits/associates for subsequent utilisation in collusion with the other suspects.

The ED denied the averments of Mr. Senthilbalaji in his discharge petition that he had been prosecuted to wreak vengeance. Further, the Supreme Court itself has categorically observed that there is no political vendetta in this issue. The investigation was conducted only in the manner known to law. As there is a direction of the High Court to complete the trial in three months on a day-to-day basis, the ED sought the court to dismiss the present discharge petition. The judge adjourned the case to March 6.

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