Karnataka minister and senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar.
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is questioning former Karnataka minister and senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar in a money laundering case, is probing the "bags full of cash" delivered to some people in old Delhi's Chandni Chowk area which the Income Tax department unearthed in the raids at his residence in the national capital in 2017.
Shivakumar, considered to be the Congress' troubleshooter, was instrumental in keeping the party's MLAs from Gujarat from being poached in 2017 ahead of the crucial Rajya Sabha polls in which Ahmed Patel was the party's candidate and won narrowly.
Shivakumar had arranged for the stay of the Gujarat Congress MLAs at a luxury resort in Karnataka at that time.
He has also been instrumental in keeping the flock together by holding talks with the rebel party MLAs during the previous Janata Dal-Secular and Congress coalition government in the state.
A senior ED official related to the probe told IANS: "The I-T department has unearthed a money trail, which led to the recovery of over Rs 8.59 crore in 2017 from his Safdarjung Enclave residence and other places. So we are focusing on the source of the money."
He said, during investigation it was found that Shivakumar's close associates delivered bags full of cash in the Chandni Chowk area to few people on the directions of the Karnataka Congress leader.
He said the agency during the questioning of Shivakumar asked him about the conduits he had hired to send the money full of bags in Chandni Chowk and other areas of the city.
The official said that Shivakumar is being questioned under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The Income Tax department in its probe against the Congress leader has found that his close associate SK Sharma transported huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with the help of three other accused.
The official said that we are trying to identify who were the "persons" who received those amounts and for what purpose that amount was "meant" for.
The official pointed out that during questioning of Shivakumar, they also asked him about the details of his properties in several parts of the country. He said, "We gave him a set of questions pertaining to the details of his properties and source of those properties, whether it was inherited from the family or bought later."
The official said that the agency also confronted him with the documents of those properties to find the source of the income from which they were bought. The financial probe agency had in September last year registered a case of money laundering against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
The official said that earlier, the agency had issued summons to Shivakumar thrice after registering the case.
He said, the first summons to Shivakumar was issued on January 17 this year, but he ignored it. "The agency again summoned him of February 15 and then also he did not join the investigation. Finally he responded to the agency's recent summons on Thursday and joined the investigation after the Karnataka High Court rejected his bail petition," he said.
The official said that during his questioning since Friday evening, Shivakumar has been non-cooperative with the agency as he is not willing to give answers to the questions given related to the persons to whom the cash were sent and what was the source of the money.
The official further said that the agency is likely to "arrest" him if he continues to adopt his approach of stalling the investigation. The ED case has been filed based on a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the IT department against Shivakumar last year in a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his associate Sharma of transporting huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with the help of other accused.
Shivakumar has been on the ED and I-T department's radar post-demonetisation. The alleged money laundering came to light after I-T sleuths raided Shivakumar's flat in New Delhi on August 2, 2017 which led to the seizure of unaccounted cash to the tune of Rs 8.59 crore without any evidence about its source.
Shivakumar has accused Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa of indulging in vindictive politics by targeting him and other opposition leaders. Before appearing for questioning before the ED, Shivakumar said, "I am a law-abiding citizen, and I have legal options which I am exploring."
The Congress leader said he will face the proceedings "legally, politically and socially".