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Last updated: 13 Apr, 2024  

Arrest.9.Thmb.jpg ED seizes assets valued at Rs 50.47cr in Bengal ration scam case

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IANS | 12 Apr, 2024
The Enforcement Directorate has provisionally attached various assets of "book value" of Rs 50.47 crore allegedly acquired out of Proceeds of Crime (PoC) derived and obtained from PDS Ration Scam by several persons including Jyoti Priya Mallick, the then Minister-In-Charge of Food and Supply Department in West Bengal, and others.

An ED official said that the market value of these seized properties from Mallick, Bakibur Rahaman (rice and flour miller), Sankar Addhya, and others, is estimated to be significantly more than Rs 150 crore.

"These assets include 48 immovable properties of different persons and entities, including a residential house in Salt Lake, Bolpur, belonging to Mallick, several other 'benami properties' held in the names of his close associates, two hotels owned by Rahaman in Kolkata and Bengaluru, and balances in various bank accounts and fixed deposits," said ED in a statement issued on Friday. Mallick, a minister in the government led by Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, was dismissed from his position on February 16 this year, months after his arrest in a multi-crore scam.

Mallick, who was arrested in October last year by the ED, had also served as the Minister of Food Supplies from 2011 to 2021 before assuming the role of Minister of Forest Affairs and Non-Conventional and Renewable Energy.

The ED said that it has also been found that Mallick has allegedly received various immovable properties worth over crores of rupees as 'gifts' without any consideration in the names of his family members or close associates, which had been provisionally attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The ED had initiated an investigation based on FIRs registered by the West Bengal Police, wherein various private persons were found in unauthorised possession of rations meant for delivery through the Public Distribution System (PDS) and were also found to be involved in bogus procurement of paddy.

"During the investigation, three important modus operandi were detected for the generation of Proceeds of Crime (PoCs) related to the PDS scam, namely, siphoning of PDS rations to the open market, mixing of old wheat flour in fresh flour meant for PDS distribution, and bogus paddy procurement at Minimum Support Price (MSP). It is suspected that in the PDS scam, PoC was worth more than Rs 10,000 crore was generated," the ED said.

Rahaman, Mallick, Sankar Addhya, and Biswajit Das were arrested under Section 19 of the PMLA, 2002, and all are currently in judicial custody.

It has also been revealed during the investigation that a huge amount of PoCs was laundered to Dubai and other countries by converting rupees into foreign currencies through money changer companies owned or controlled by Addhya, Das, and others.

"In this regard, a prosecution complaint was filed in the Special Court (PMLA), Kolkata, on December 12, 2023, and a supplementary prosecution complaint was filed on March 5, 2024. Cognisance of both complaints has been taken by the court," said an ED official.

"Further, a prayer has been made via the aforementioned complaints for the confiscation of properties acquired or obtained from Proceeds of Crime which includes 101 immovable properties and balances in several bank accounts," the official added.

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