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Kerala: ED attaches land, bank deposits of CPI(M) in money laundering case

'We will fight it legally and politically. We haven't got any notice in this regard so far,' said party state secretary M V Govindan.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 12:21 IST

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Kochi: The Enforcement Directorate has attached a land parcel in Kerala and bank deposits worth Rs 73 lakh allegedly belonging to the CPI(M) as part of an ongoing money laundering probe linked to the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank “scam”, official sources said on Saturday.

The CPI(M) vehemently denied charges of wrongdoing and money laundering.

A provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has been issued for attaching these assets, the sources said.

The attached properties include a land parcel worth Rs 10 lakh in Kerala’s Thrissur district and Rs 63 lakh deposits kept in five "undisclosed" bank accounts of the political party, they said.

The CPI(M) rejected the ED charges, saying it would legally and politically fight any move by the agency to arraign it in the case linked to the alleged multi-crore Karuvannur bank scam.

Party state secretary M V Govindan alleged the ED was trying to make opposition parties and their leaders accused in various cases due to political reasons.

He also accused the central agency of attempting to create a smokescreen as it had failed to collect any evidence against the party.

The ED believes that the land parcel attached by it was meant for the CPI(M) party office and was purchased using alleged kickbacks from the loanees or beneficiaries of the loans sanctioned by the Karuvannur Service Cooperative Bank.

The agency has relied on the "confessional" statements of at least two accused in this case who claimed in their statements recorded before a judicial magistrate that the purported irregularities in the bank were orchestrated at the behest of CPI(M) Thrissur district committee leaders.

Govindan said it has been a decades-long practice of registering the office and other assets of party units in the name of the respective district committees.

What role does the party have in the office constructed by one of its local committees, he said.

But the ED is now trying to “tarnish” the image of the CPI(M) in the name of the assets of one such party unit, he claimed.

"We will fight it legally and politically. We haven't got any notice in this regard so far," Govindan told reporters.

The ED had filed a charge sheet in this case against 55 accused entities in November last year.

The agency had also informed the court in its prosecution complaint (the ED’s equivalent of a charge sheet) that it has attached more than 120 assets worth about Rs 100 crore in this case.

The money laundering case stems from 16 FIRs registered by the Kerala Police (Crime Branch) in Thrissur.

This case of alleged fraud, beginning in 2010, in the Thrissur-based CPI(M)-controlled bank had triggered a political row in the state with the party saying it had done no wrong.

The ED has said its probe in the case found that "on the instructions of certain persons, who were district-level leaders and committee members of a certain political party and governed the bank, loans were disbursed by the bank manager through the agent in cash to non-member benamis by mortgaging properties of poor members without their knowledge and laundered to the benefit of the accused".

Bogus loans were sanctioned by the bank against the same property multiple times without the knowledge of members of Society, according to the agency.

Investigation has also revealed that benami loans were sanctioned to non-members against inflated property valuations in the names of other members and such loan funds were siphoned off and laundered by the accused beneficiaries, the agency had said in a statement earlier.

Four people have been arrested by the ED in this case so far.

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Published 29 June 2024, 12:21 IST

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