Complaint to ED demands probe into Eshwarappa's 'benami' assets

Complaint to ED demands probe into Eshwarappa's 'benami' assets

A complaint has been filed with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister K S Eshwarappa, seeking a probe into his benami assets in different states in the country and abroad.

The complaint filed by Vinod B, an advocate from Shivamogga, stated that Eshwarappa, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and his son K E Kanthesh, a member of Shivamogga Zilla Panchayat, floated shell companies in Kolkata to launder ill-gotten money.

The complainant submitted that he had filed a private complaint before the Lokayukta special court in Shivamogga in December 2012 seeking a probe against Eshwarappa for disproportionate assets. The court directed Shivamogga Lokayukta police to conduct an investigation. During raids conducted by the Lokayukta police, documents pertaining to assets purchased in the names of members of his family and in others’ names (benami) were found.

These assets are located in Rajasthan, West Bengal and also in the UAE. The Lokayukta probe also found that Eshwarappa and members of his family floated shell companies in Kolkata and purchased shares of companies, in which Eshwarappa's son Kanthesh is a director, at an exorbitant rate.

The Lokayukta police had unearthed more than 10 such shell companies and the complainant claimed that all these companies, with fictitious addresses in Kolkata, do not exist and are used only to launder black money.   

The complaint stated that Eshwarappa has amassed assets worth several crores in his name and in the names of his son, wife and other members of his family after he became a minister in 2006.

In less than four years, the total assets of Eshwarappa and his family have grown more than 100-fold. However, these assets amassed after 2006 were neither included in the assets and liabilities statement submitted before the Lokayukta or the Election Commission in 2013, prior to the Assembly elections.

The complainant has submitted documents, including list of properties purchased in the names of Eshwarappa and others, extent of properties and also dates of their registration. The complainant has requested the ED officials to obtain details of the investigation conducted by the Shivamogga Lokayukta police and conduct an investigation for violations under Money Laundering Act and other relevant Acts.

The investigation into the disproportionate assets against Eshwarappa was quashed by the Karnataka High Court on the technical grounds that the complainant had not obtained sanction to prosecute him before filing the private complaint. Vinod filed a fresh complaint before the Lokayukta court, which too was quashed on technical grounds. The complainant has filed an appeal which is pending before the high court.
DH News Service

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