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Searches launched to trace money laundering routes

The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested a chartered accountant for allegedly laundering the “ill-gotten” money of a Chhattisgarh Principal Secretary, Babu Lal Agrawal, who was arrested recently by the Central Bureau of Investigation. In another case involving over Rs. 200-crore “benami” transactions, the agency searched the premises of six other chartered accountants in the national capital.

Sunil Agrawal, who runs his firm in Raipur, provided services mainly to Prime Ispat Ltd. and its directors, including the 1988-batch IAS official who faces three CBI cases of corruption. “The CA was the key person who helped Mr. Agrawal launder the unaccounted-for money through 446 “benami” accounts with two Union Bank of India branches in the name of villagers without their knowledge,” said an ED official.

13 shell companies

The funds, after being deposited in these accounts, were immediately transferred to 13 shell companies which had allegedly been formed by the CA. The money was routed through the shell companies as share application money. More than Rs. 36 crore was invested as share capital in Prime Ispat, in which the IAS official’s brothers became directors. Equity shares of the shell companies were ultimately bought by Prime Ispat’s sister concerns.

As part of the anti-black money drive, the ED on Thursday conducted searches against six other chartered accountants for their presumed role in routing Rs. 200 crore through shell companies allegedly formed by brothers Surendra and Virendra Jain. The Directorate had arrested the Jain brothers last month under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The searches were carried out in the Lakshmi Nagar, Dilshad Garden, Rana Pratap Bagh, Azadpur, Karolbagh, Model Town, Dariba Kalan and Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg areas of Delhi. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office , on whose case the ED is taking action, had in its report mentioned that the Jain brothers had laundered Rs. 3,790 crores between 2004 and 2011.

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