Karnataka minister DK Shivakumar and few others, allegedly the minister's associates, have landed in trouble again. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money laundering case against Shivakumar and his aassociates on the basis of an alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions case, officials told PTI. The agency has booked Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
The case has been filed based on a chargesheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income-Tax department against him early this year before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores. The agency is expected to summon the accused soon for recording their statements.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his associate S K Sharma of transporting huge amount of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with help of three other accused.
"As per facts and analysis of evidences, it is clear that accused number 1 (Shivakumar) has set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bengaluru in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash," the department had said. Other accused are Sachin Narayan, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah and N Rajendra, the department further added.
According to the tax department, Narayan is a business partner of Shivakumar and Sharma is the proprietor of Sharma Transports, which runs a fleet of luxury and passenger buses and provides transport services to various concerns and individuals on rental basis.
Haumanthaiah is an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, allegedly responsible for storing and handling unaccounted cash of Shivakumar in Delhi, it had said in the complaint. Rajendra is a caretaker of Karnataka Bhavan and works for Sharma, besides looking after immovable properties of Shivakumar and Sharma, it said.
The I-T department had alleged that all five accused conspired to evade tax. "The analysis of evidences shows that the Minister has set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bangalore in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash," it alleged.
He was allegedly involved in organised tax evasion as part of conspiracy by engaging others, the department said. Unaccounted cash of approximately Rs 20 crore was found and seized during raids in New Delhi and Bengaluru last August which were directly relatable to Shivakumar, PTI reported.
On 8 September, The Hindu had reported that Shivakumar's younger brother had alleged that a letter written by state BJP president, BS Yeddyurappa to the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes Sushil Chandra had demanded a probe into alleged irregularities and corruption by him, his brother and their associates. Suresh had also alleged that BJP was misuisng I-T, CBI and ED to destabilise the State government.
Although Yedurrapa had denied writing such letter, DK Suresh had said that investigation authorities had come under pressure from the BJP and also alleged that the I-T department had filed four cases against Shivakumar. On 15 September, 2018, ANI had reported that Special Economic Offences Court granted conditional bail to Shivakumar and three others. He had to furnish a bond of Rs 1 lakh and deposit surety of Rs 25,000 in cash in a case filed by the I-T department. Three others Sunil Sharma, Anjaneya and Rajendra had to furnish surety of Rs 25,000 each. The next date of hearing is 20 September, reported PTI.
In August 2018, Shivakumar and four of his associates had petitioned the Karnataka High Court to stay the proceedings of the Income Tax Department's investigation. On 18 August, the High Court had granted a stay.
According to The Deccan Chronicle, in August 2017, the I-T department had raided several properties of Shivakumar and officials had alleged that they had found Rs 8 crore worth of unaccounted cash at his New Delhi residence. The I-T department had filed charges at the Economic Offences Court in Bengaluru.
Shivakumar was instrumental in ensuring the safe stay of Gujarat Congress legislators in a Karnataka resort during Rajya Sabha polls last year amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them.
With inputs from PTI