Koda probe: ED seizes assets worth Rs 140 cr

AS

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has identified and seized properties worth Rs 140 crore, including 14 luxurious flats in upscale localities in Mumbai, in connection with the money laundering case involving former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, who is currently in jail.

The seizures came after the arrest of Anil Bastawade in January this year from Jakarta, said officials.

During questioning, Bastawade came out with details of properties in which Koda allegedly invested in India and abroad. It was after this disclosure that Koda's bail plea was initially rejected by the trial court. He was finally given bail by the Supreme Court on March 1 but he remains inside jail because of several other criminal cases against him.

The properties, which have been attached following Bastawade's arrest, include residential and commercial properties in Bangalore, Pune and Jamshedpur and 14 flats in Mumbai.

"Corporate vehicles were used to disguise the origin of proceeds of crime and also acquire high-value plush properties in major cities where investments in real estate provide scope for huge returns," said an official.

ED officials alleged that Mumbai-based Balaji Group of companies was used for parking "ill-gotten money". The money was invested in guise of share premium, share application money and unsecured loans, they alleged, adding that a large number of investors in these companies were found to be fictitious.

These companies are being controlled by Manoj Punamia, a close associate of Koda, who was recently released on bail.

When contacted at the company's office in Mumbai, the representative refused to comment. A senior official of the firm, Hardik Kumar, when contacted over phone, refused to share details or make any comments regarding the fresh seizures.

The group, set up in 1993 as a small bullion trading business, now has 10 companies in Mumbai and others parts of the country with a transaction of more than Rs 1,000 crore. Officials alleged that new companies were floated in 2006-07 to launder the money.

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