ED attaches Rs 2.7-cr worth assets of Surat BJP leader

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New Delhi, Jan 4 (PTI) The Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth Rs 2.7 crore of a Surat-based BJP leader and a media firm linked to him in connection with a money laundering case against them, the agency said on Monday.

It said a provisional order for attachment has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against PVS Sarma, Sanket Media Pvt Ltd in which he is a director, his wife Annapurna Sarma and son P Sushant Sarma.

All the attached immovable properties are located in the diamond city and they include seven shops located in Savera complex, two flats in Nova complex, a shop and a plot located in western business park and Karunasagar area, land and a building in the Palsana area and Rs 24 lakh in fixed deposits.

These assets are worth Rs 2.70 crore while their market value is estimated to be Rs 8 crore, the agency said in a statement.

Sarma, 57, was removed as the BJP vice president of Surat soon after the Income Tax department raided him in October last year on charges of alleged tax evasion.

He has earlier worked in the Income Tax department.

Sarma was arrested by the ED in November under sections of the PMLA and he is in custody at present.

The ED had booked Sarma, the media company (Sanket) and the others after studying a Gujarat Police FIR that was filed against him by the Income Tax department.

Sanket Media Pvt Ltd publishes 'Satyam Times' newspaper in Gujarati and English. The ED had earlier said in a statement that the probe found that 'though the circulation of the newspapers was shown at 23,500 and 6,000-6,300 copies daily for the Gujarati and English editions respectively, actual circulation was only around 300-600 and 0-290'.

'Inflated figures of circulation were shown to attract more advertising agencies including the Directorate of Advertisement and Visual Publicity (DAVP) and other private advertising companies to publish their advertisements in the said newspaper,' it had alleged.

The ED had said Sarma, using his media company, has 'indulged in conspiracy and cheated the government and private advertising companies and, by doing so, had received Rs 2.70 crore towards advertisement'. Prior to the I-T raids, Sarma had alleged that some tax officials, jewellers and chartered accountants were involved in money laundering during the demonetisation exercise in 2016.

Sarma sat on the road near his apartment as a mark of protest against the raids.

'I have nothing to hide. Officials are searching my house. They are scared and trying to intimidate me so that I don't disclose names of erring I-T officers and others who were involved in the scam. I have proof and I will disclose it soon,' Sarma had told reporters. PTI NES RDM RDM