ED attaches Rs 44 cr worth assets in Madurai Granite scam

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Chennai, Dec 23: The Enforcement Directorate on Friday issued a fresh attachment order worth Rs 44 crore in connection with its money laundering probe in the Madurai granite scam case in Tamil Nadu. The agency, in a statement, said it has "provisionally attached properties worth Rs 44 crores of Ms Aiswariya Rock Exports Madurai and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Money

The agency had similarly attached assets worth Rs 528 crore in the same probe case few days back. It booked a criminal case of money laundering in the latest case against two people and their firms after taking cognisance of three police FIRs.

"During the investigation under PMLA, it was noticed that one Sankaranarayanan and PKM Selvam were running two firms M S Granites and Ms Sri Aiswariya Rock Export and they have entered into a criminal conspiracy to illegally quarry multi-colour granite stones from the non-lease hold lands.  They have also resorted to illegal quarrying from the government Poramboke lands by removing the boundary stones erected by the Revenue department.They used various machinery and explosive materials, without adhering to statutory obligations and safety precautions causing harm to human lives," the statement said.

"They forged and fabricated documents for transporting illegally acquired granite blocks so as to cheat the statutory authorities and to camouflage illegally earned income," it added. T

The agency further said that investigation conducted by it so far "revealed the said firms are selling the illegally mined granite blocks in the international/domestic market in excess of the declared quantity and realised the sale proceeds.

"The same were re-invested in acquisition of the immovable properties, capital goods among others and got further additional revenues.Thus, the proceeds of crime were integrated and projected as money acquired through legitimate business," the agency said.

The two individuals, it said, "utilizing the said crime proceeds, acquired immovable properties in their personal names, in the name of their spouses and in the name of their firms.It was also noticed that the crime proceeds were also invested in certain fixed deposits.

"Investigations revealed that proceeds of crime were invested in 31 immovable properties having a market value of over Rs 43 crores and in 37 fixed deposits to the tune of Rs 1.52 crores. "As these properties are involved in money laundering, the said 31 Immovable properties and 37 fixed deposits have been provisionally attached under the provisions of PMLA," it said.

An attachment of assets action under PMLA is aimed to deprive the accussed from taking benefits of their suspected ill-gotten wealth and such an order issed by the agency can be appealed before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act within 180 days. The granite scam came to the fore after the then District Collector U Sagayam in a report in May 2012 pegged the loss to the exchequer due to illegal granite quarrying in the district at about Rs 16,000 crore.

PTI

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