The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday attached assets worth Rs 25 crore, including three huge agricultural lands and a farm house, allegedly acquired by Karnataka’s ex-chief project officer of the highway development department in connection with its money laundering probe registered post demonetisation.
The agency identified the accused as SC Jayachandra, who was also arrested by the agency in December last year under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). He is in judicial custody at present.
The ED said its investigations “revealed that several properties were acquired by the accused (Jayachandra) in his name and in the name of his wife, his brother in law and in the name of his mother-in-law.
“All these persons had actively assisted Jayachandra in acquiring and possessing various properties,” it said.
The seized assets consist of about 13 residential properties, three agricultural lands and a farm house and are mostly in the vicinity of Bengaluru and in the Chitradurga district of the state.
“It was also noticed that the accused had projected the ill-gotten properties as untainted. The market value of these properties aggregates to over Rs 25 crore,” it said.
The case emerges from a December 1, 2016 seizure made by the Income Tax department here of Rs 5.7 crore in new Rs 2,000 notes.
The ED had registered a money laundering case against seven people, including Jayachandra, based on a CBI FIR in the case and had seized new notes worth Rs 91.94 lakh in Rs 2,000 notes from them.
The modus operandi adopted by these people, ED had said, was by posing as “customers” looking to get old currency exchanged illegally after paying commission to the said middlemen.
The accused had set up a “systematic” network for supplying new currency notes in exchange of old/demonetised currency to various persons who had hoarded demonetised currencies, it had said.
The customers could get their notes exchanged by paying 20-35 per cent commission, the agency said.
“The accused had supplied new currencies on many earlier occasions to Jayachandra through Prasanth and they fell into trap while making one such effort to supply new currency on December 4.
“The said new currencies were sourced from various parts of Karnataka,” it had said.
The role of a few bank officials and entry operators is also under the scanner of ED.
An attachment under PMLA is aimed to deprive the accused from obtaining benefits of his ill-gotten wealth and such an order can be appealed before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act within 180 days.