DK Shivakumar, Karnataka polls, Congress,

ED chargesheets Congress leader DK Shivakumar in money laundering case

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a chargesheet under the anti-money laundering law against Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar and others, officials said on Thursday. The prosecution complaint has been filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) before a Delhi court, they said.

The federal probe agency, in the chargesheet, has included the statements of various people it recorded during the course of investigation and the evidence it gathered.

Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, Shivakumar said all “political weapons” were being used against him, ahead of the Karnataka assembly polls expected to be held next year. He claimed that the chargesheet is “part of a plan to eliminate people, whom the ruling dispensation fear may create trouble for them politically or dont surrender to them”, adding that he is ready to “face everything”.

The ED had in September 2018 registered a money laundering case against Shivakumar, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah, an employee at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and other people allegedly linked to him.

Shivakumar, 60, was arrested by the ED in this case in 2019, after multiple rounds of questioning. A number of people, including his daughter Aisshwarya and Congress MLA Lakshmi Hebbalkar, were questioned by the agency during the probe.

The Congress leader, a former cabinet minister of Karnataka, is out on bail in the money laundering case. The case is based on an earlier Income Tax Department chargesheet filed against Shivakumar and others before a court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala dealings.

The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his associate SK Sharma of transporting huge amounts of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through hawala channels with the help of three other accused after it carried out raids in Delhi and Bengaluru against them in 2017.

Shivakumar, after the I-T department raids, had said that his “instrumental role” in ensuring safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017, amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them, was the reason for the I-T searches and subsequent ED action against him.

The I-T department claimed that Shivakumar set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bengaluru in order to transport and utilise “unaccounted” cash. The other accused in its case were identified as Sachin Narayan, Hanumanthaiah and N Rajendra.

According to the department, Narayan was a business partner of Shivakumar and Sharma is the proprietor of Sharma Transports, which ran a fleet of luxury and passenger buses and provided transport services to various concerns and individuals on rental basis.

Hanumanthaiah was allegedly responsible for storing and handling “unaccounted” cash of Shivakumar in Delhi, it had said in its complaint. Rajendra is a caretaker in Karnataka Bhavan and works for Sharma, besides looking after immovable properties of Shivakumar and Sharma, it had said.

The I-T department had alleged that all five accused “conspired” to evade tax. In 2020, the Central Bureau of Investigation, following the ED action, had registered a case against Shivakumar and his family members on the allegations of possession of disproportionate assets worth Rs 74.93 crore.

With agency inputs

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