The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth Rs 2.77 crore, including Rs 29 lakhs in bank deposits, of a retired IAS officer and Chennai Port Trust (CPT) Chairman in connection with its money laundering probe against him and others, that emerged from an earlier disproportionate assets case against him. The agency’s zonal office in Chennai on Wednesday said it has issued orders, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), to provisionally attach three immovable assets worth Rs 2.48 crore and bank deposits to the tune of Rs 29 lakhs of K Suresh, a retired 1982-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre.
The ED had slapped money laundering charges against Suresh and others based on a CBI FIR and charge sheet against him on charges of possessing alleged disproportionate assets. The CBI had filed a criminal complaint against him and raided his premises in Chennai in 2009.
The ED said its PMLA probe found that the “proceeds of crime derived by Suresh…were laundered with the help of a real estate agent from Rajapalayam, a family friend and through the various accounts operated by the proprietor of a real estate firm, who operates his accounts in the names of various shell companies with a Chennai bank.”
“He (owner of real estate firm) utilised the same for the purchase of an immovable property at Kottivakkam in the name of the wife of Suresh and the same is being projected as untainted property by him,” ED said in a statement. The agency added Suresh had “acquired another immovable property at Kodaikanal by laundering proceeds of crime committed by him with the help a family friend and a gold and diamond mining businessman in Africa. “The Kodaikanal property was purchased in the name of the brother-in-law of the associate who acted as a benami for Suresh,” it said.
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. A special CBI court in Chennai, in November last year, had convicted and sentenced Suresh to two years rigorous imprisonment in the case filed by the central anti-corruption probe agency.
Suresh, a 1982-batch IAS officer, was under the CBI scanner during his tenure as Chennai Port Trust chairman from September 2004 to July 2009, when he was repatriated to his home cadre, Madhya Pradesh.It is learnt that Suresh’s name figures in two more cases. These include causing a loss of `20 crore to the Chennai Port Trust by allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy with a Singapore firm. He and two other officials were accused of abusing their official position to allot a berth in the Chennai Port on April 11, 2007 to a non-functional ship, M V San Giorgio, which had to be towed in to the harbour.
Suresh’s role is also being probed in the alleged embezzlement of funds during installation of a conveyor belt system for transporting coal at a cost of `43 crore in 2009.
The probe began after a complaint alleged that a private player given contract for installation had put up only 250 metres of belt against the mandated length of 275 metres.