TN Minister Senthil Balaji's bank statements reveal substantial cash deposits: ED
The central agency filed a prosecution complaint under several sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on August 12. A special court in Chennai acknowledged the chargesheet on Wednesday (August 16).
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) revealed on Thursday that an examination of the bank accounts belonging to arrested Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji and his wife uncovered significant cash deposits. This disclosure comes shortly after the ED filed a chargesheet against the DMK leader in connection to a money laundering probe linked to the 'cash for jobs scam' within the state's transport department.
The prosecution complaint, filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was submitted by the central agency on August 12 before a special court in Chennai and it took cognizance of the chargesheet on Wednesday, it said in a statement.
The about 3,000-page chargesheet includes more than 2,000 pages of annexures and 168-170 pages of operational documents.
The agency alleged that Balaji, 47, "abused" his official position as the transport minister of Tamil Nadu (during the previous AIADMK regime) along with his brother RV Ashok Kumar and personal assistants B Shanmugam and M Karthikeyan and "entered into a criminal conspiracy" with the then managing directors of state transport undertakings (STUs) and other officers of transport corporations. It claimed the accused obtained "illegal gratification" from candidates to recruit them as drivers, conductors, junior tradesmen, junior assistants, junior engineer and assistant engineer in the transport corporations.
"During ED investigation, the bank statement analysis revealed that there were huge cash deposits in the bank accounts of accused V Senthil Balaji and his wife S Megala." "ED has collected incriminating evidences indicating the utilisation of proceeds of crime and establishing the nexus and modus operandi of the 'cash for jobs scam'," the ED alleged.
It said Balaji was confronted with "incriminating evidences but he failed to rebut the same and offer any plausible explanation, instead he remained non-cooperative and evasive during the investigation proceedings". The agency claimed it has collected incriminating evidence indicating the utilisation of the "proceeds of crime" and establishing the "nexus" and modus operandi of the alleged 'Cash for Jobs Scam'.
Balaji, lodged in the Puzhal central jail in Chennai, continues to be a minister without portfolio in Chief Minister M K Stalin-led Tamil Nadu government after he was arrested by the ED on June 14 in this money laundering case.
The agency had earlier claimed that Balaji "misused" his office for illegal gratification and "engineered" a job racket scam in the state transport undertakings during 2014-15 with purported kickbacks paid by candidates through his associates who include his brother R V Ashok Kumar and personal assistants B Shanmugam and M Karthikeyan.
"This led to jobs being awarded at the expense of deserving candidates", the ED had alleged.
The ED filed a case of money laundering in September 2021 to probe these allegations and its complaint is based on three Tamil Nadu Police FIRs filed in 2018 and later by some of those who failed to get the promised jobs.
(With agency inputs)