Money chase, after the MLA purchase

The politicians are raising to science the art of exchange of cash in the horse-trading market

Money chase, after the MLA purchase

Given the horse-trading that has been indulged in by the JD(S) and the BJP, it is also obvious that the MLAs, regardless of their party loyalty are ready to jump ship for a price. What is that price?

Opposition parties put it anywhere between Rs 15 crore and 25 crore. However, neither the giver nor the receiver confesses to the deal.

As such deals are illegal, money that changes hands has to be unaccounted for. Needless to say, the transactions cannot be through nationalised banks.

So, how are crores of rupees given or taken? How does one transfer money to the tune of crores from one person to another?

Even politicians who are raising a hue and cry over the purchase of MLAs by the ruling BJP, are not categorical about how money changes hands, lest they be accused of knowledge born of practice. Hence, they talk of certain ‘usual methodologies.’

P Kodandaramaiah, retired IPS officer and former MP, now with the Congress, said that money in such cases is given either directly to the ‘beneficiary’ (MLA) or to people who are associated with him. The person who organises the money is usually someone who is not in power but closely associated with men in power.

Lumpsum payments of Rs 15 crore to 25 crore at one time to ‘buy’ an MLA appears to be exaggerated. A token sum of say about Rs five crore may be given to make an MLA cross over and then do the vanishing act. The party is in power has an advantage over the Opposition, given its capacity to ‘mobilise resources’.

Even the token advance of Rs five crore, although much smaller than the final sum agreed upon, occupies large space, even in higher denomination currency notes. This would require a large suitcase or a few smaller ones. Unlike during election time, when the hawk-eyed, lurking poll observers make transporting cash a serious risk, couriering money in these times is easier and is not intercepted by law enforcement authorities.
Such cash transactions are tripartite, he says. Cash would not be handed over to the ‘beneficiary’ directly. On his behalf, somebody else would receive the booty which eventually would reach the ‘beneficiary.’

Admitting that he has no first hand knowledge of how black money change hands, Kodandaramaiah said: "No one who has given or taken money has explained to me how black money gets transacted. But I am sure that loyalty of an MLA is bought."
How does one expose such illegalities?

He said if the Directorate of Enforcement and Income-Tax Department officials kept a vigil over the transactions of the ‘beneficiary,’ his family members, friends and those who are employed by him, they would definitely get a clue as to where the money is being invested.

"The money collected has to be invested in some manner. If investigating agency officials keep a close track of increasing wealth of the ‘beneficiary’ and his associates, then they can find the truth. Even the Lokayukta can play a major role. A person who has huge cash won’t keep it with him forever. He will invest - either in business or real estate," the retired IPS officer said.

Santosh Lad, Congress MLA and a mining businessman, said it was obvious that black money was being used to purchase legislators through the benami route. It was difficult for anyone to resist crores of rupees.

"Many BJP leaders are into real estate business. They have pooled in money to save their government. The loads of money which has gone into for buying the loyalty of MLAs, will be invested in real estate, purchase of gold and money laundering. Also, the money is given in installments and not in a lumpsum," he said.


Box, case or gunny sack?

According to a cashier of a nationalised bank, Rs 25 crore could be stored in a metal box measuring 2.5 ft x 3.5 ft x 2.5 ft. One crore could be bundled into one pack consisting of 10,000 currency notes of Rs 1,000 denomination. For Rs 25 crore, you need 25 such bundles. Unlike in the movies, cash need not be carried in a gunny sack. A bag or a box would do. Currency notes of Rs 1,000 were ideal for transactions involving large sums, he said.
One ultimate destination for such cash was benami accounts in co-operative banks.

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