ED’s conviction rate 0.5%, just 23 out of 5422 charge sheets, Parliament informed

Under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act, parliament was informed on Monday, the ED had registered 5422 cases since its inception and secured convictions in 23 cases

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

NH Web Desk

In February this year Advocate Menaka Guruswamy had informed the Supreme Court that the although the Enforcement Directorate had since 2011 launched 1,569 investigations and conducted as many as 1,700 raids, it had managed to secure conviction in only nine cases.

The Finance Ministry on Monday more or less corroborated what Guruswamy had claimed. In a reply to a question from JDU(U) Member Rajiv Ranjan Singh, it informed that the ED had instituted 5,422 cases under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act), 2002 in the last 17 years. It had filed charge sheets in court in 992 cases but secured conviction of the accused in only 23 cases.

Raids and PMLA cases by ED had increased dramatically after the 1984 batch IRS officer Sanjay Kumar Mishra from the Income Tax department was appointed as Director, ED in 2018. He was given an extension for one year till November 18, 2022.

During this period the Enforcement Directorate has rarely investigated or raided politicians from the ruling BJP. But 95% of the politicians being investigated by the ED are from the opposition. Many of these investigations, raids and arrests were made just ahead of elections, raising suspicion that the ‘independent’ central agency is pursuing a political agenda.

While the ED claims that the conviction rate is low because of the complexities involved in proving financial irregularities, there are not many takers for the explanation offered. This is largely because several politicians investigated by the ED opted to join the BJP, following which the cases mysteriously disappeared from the media.

Reports from Maharashtra on Tuesday indicated that Shiv Sena MLA Arjun Khotkar had called on Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde in New Delhi. Khotkar, held the political grapevine in Mumbai, is all set to join the BJP. It may not entirely be a coincidence that last month ED had attached his assets worth Rs 78 crore and a 200-acre land parcel.

The abysmal conviction rate of 0.5% has prompted demands that a parliamentary committee should scrutinise the reasons for the poor conviction rate. Tax payers, it is pointed out, fund the ED and its raids, investigation and prosecution; hence parliament and people’s representatives have the right to demand answers.

The Finance Ministry informed Parliament that in the last 17 years property worth Rs 1.04 lakh crore had been attached.

The ED also registered 30,716 cases for foreign exchange violations under FEMA. It served 8109 show-cause notices, seized Rs 7080 crore worth of assets and imposed penalties to the tune of Rs 8,130 crore.

The reply also confirms that 3,555 cases under PMLA, which allows ED the power to arrest unlike the Income Tax Act, have been registered after May, 2014.

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