Congress leader DK Shivakumar, who was arrested on September 3 in an alleged money laundering case, suffered yet another setback on Friday (September 13) as a Delhi court extended his Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody till September 17.
According to reports, the probe agency told the court that the Vokkaliga strongman was withholding information and deliberately giving them irrelevant information. It further told the court several of the leader’s properties were ‘benami’.
The court reportedly asked the ED why it sought additional custody of Shivakumar if it claims he’s non-cooperative. “Do you think he will give answers in the next five days? If he was going to do it (answer the ED’s questions) he would have done it by now,” the court had said.
But what led the ED to pin the case on Shivakumar?
Shivakumar’s assets grew multifold rise in the last 15 years. Besides murky deals, a complex web of money transfers and property transactions within his family and friend circles made the ED doubt the growth of his assets.
As per an affidavit submitted to the Election Commission, Shivakumar and his dependents’ (wife and daughters) wealth increased from a mere ₹7 crore in 2004 to 251 crore in 2013. This further rose to ₹840 crore by 2018.
And it wasn’t just him. His brother DK Suresh’s wealth increased ₹85 crore in 2014 to ₹338 crore in 2019. Besides, there were numerous money transfers, in the name of loans, to and from his wife, daughter, brother and mother.
The Income Tax department’s raid on the premises of Shivakumar and his financial assistant N Chandrashekar Sukapuri led the officials to investigate his daughter and Café Coffee Day (CCD) owner VG Siddhartha’s involvement in a land deal.
The I-T officials had raided the premises of Shivakumar and his associates when he took the lead to ensure 44 Gujarat MLAs were flown in to stay at a resort near Bengaluru and that they voted in favour of Congress leader Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha.
The officials had revealed that Shivakumar’s daughter Aisshwarya had strike a deal with CCD and SoulSpace Projects Ltd allegedly to hide black money. The officials had told reporters that the Congress leader had received about ₹20 crore from CCD.
Reports further revealed hawala transactions between Siddhartha and Rajneesh Gopinath, a Singaporean citizen and a close aide of Shivakumar. Gopinath’s brother was the finance director at CCD.
During raids, the Income Tax officials had found ₹1.2 crore cash at Gopinath’s residence, which the officials suspected belonged to Siddhartha. Further, sources revealed that the I-T raids on Siddhartha were connected to Shivakumar’s cases and had nothing to do with Siddhartha’s own business dealings.
However, after Siddhartha’s death, the Karnataka Congress alleged in a tweet that his death was a result of “harassment by I-T officials and decline of India’s entrepreneurial position turning virulent by the day, with tax terror and collapse of economy.”
The party tried play up his death and the I-T investigations even though a CCD employee had admitted to these hawala transactions. In fact, rumours were rife in the political circles that Siddhartha’s father-in-law and former union minister SM Krishna joined the BJP as a precautionary measure to shield him from prosecution.