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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the last eight years has carried out 3,010 raids and attached proceeds of crime worth Rs 99,356 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

During the ongoing monsoon session, Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary informed the Rajya Sabha that since the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power in 2014, the ED has attached the proceeds of crime and filed chargesheets in 888 cases, resulting in the conviction of 23 accused.

The high-profile raids ED carried out this year include:

1. Sonia & Rahul Gandhi in National Herald case

The ED carried out raids at 12 locations in Delhi and other places on August 2 in connection with the National Herald case in which Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, party leader Rahul Gandhi and others are accused of financial irregularities.

The case pertains to the alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA and was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognizance of an Income Tax department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

Following this, the ED on Wednesday sealed the Young Indian office at the Herald House building in the national capital.

2. Bhupinder Singh Honey in sand mining case

The ED conducted raids on the premises of property owned by former Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi’s nephew Bhupinder Singh Honey in an alleged illegal sand mining case. Honey was arrested by ED on February 3 from Jalandhar.

The agency seized more than Rs 10 crore, gold worth above Rs 21 lakh and a Rolex watch worth Rs 12 lakh from the residential premises of Honey. This was one of the biggest raids of 2022. Channi was also questioned by the ED in connection with the case.

3. Pooja Singhal in Jharkhand mining case

IAS officer Pooja Singhal, an aide of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, was raided in a money laundering case linked to the alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds in the state’s Khunti and Chatra districts. She was arrested in May this year. Around Rs 20 crore cash was recovered from Singhal and her chartered accountant.

The ED had also raided Ranchi’s Pulse Hospital, owned by her husband Abhishek Jha. Singhal was the Secretary of the Department of Mines and Geology and the Managing Director of Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation Limited (JSMDC).

4. Partha Chatterjee & Arpita Mukherjee in SSC recruitment scam

The ED, last month, recovered around Rs 50 crore in cash, along with jewellery, from former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee’s associate Arpita Mukherjee’s residence – one in southwest Kolkata and other in Belgharia – while investigating the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam.

The arrest of Partha Chatterjee followed the recovery of Rs 21 crore in cash and jewellery from the Kolkata residence of Arpita Mukherjee, a close aide of the former education minister. Trinamool Congress, which distanced itself from Chatterjee, axed him as minister and suspended him from the party as well.

The investigation is on and the ED is still searching other properties linked to both the accused. The ED has seized the maximum till now this year in this scam. However, Chatterjee had denied his involvement in the scam and claimed that the “money does not belong to him”.

5. Satyendar Jain in money laundering case

AAP leader and Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain was arrested under provisions of PMLA by the ED in May this year after CBI registered an FIR against him in a disproportionate assets case on August 24, 2017. The ED said it seized various incriminating documents and digital records.

The ED said that the total movable assets were seized from an “unexplained source” and were “found to be secreted” in the raided premises. More than Rs 2 crore in cash and gold weighing 1.8 kg were seized by the ED after raids against Jain and those linked to him, in a money laundering case.

Last month, ED questioned Jain’s wife Poonam in connection with the alleged money laundering case. She has also been named in the FIR along with the Delhi minister.

6. Karti Chidambaram in Chinese Visa case

The ED has booked Congress MP Karti Chidambaram in a money laundering case connected with the Chinese Visa case. This came soon after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in May this year conducted nationwide searches at various premises linked to P. Chidambaram and his son Karti in connection with the case.

The FIR is based on allegations that Karti accepted a bribe of Rs 50 lakh from the Vedanta Group to facilitate visas for 300 Chinese nationals of a company working in collaboration with a Vedanta subsidiary for a power project in Punjab.

7. Sanjay Raut in Patra Chawl scam

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut is currently in ED custody in a money laundering case related to irregularities in connection with the Patra Chawl case. The ED raided Raut’s Bhandup bungalow and seized of Rs 11.5 lakh in cash.

The ED also recovered several important documents during raids including records that Raut paid Rs 3 crore in cash to the sellers for 10 plots of land in Alibaug. The court sent Raut to ED custody till August 4. The agency has also accused Raut of trying to tamper with the evidence and influence key witnesses.

8. Yes Bank-DHFL fraud case

The ED has attached assets totalling Rs 415 crore in Yes Bank- DHFL fraud case. Of the total, Rs 251 crore assets were of Sanjay Chhabria and Rs 164 crore of Avinash Bhosale. The ED issued two provisional attachment orders under the provisions of the PMLA against the duo. With this latest attachment, the total goes up to Rs 1,827 crore, the enforcement agency said.

The attached assets of Sanjay Chhabria are in the form of a land parcel located in Santacruz, Mumbai worth Rs 116.5 crore, 25 per cent equity shares of Chhabria’s company held in the land parcel, located at Bengaluru worth Rs 115 Crore, a flat located at Santacruz, Mumbai worth Rs 3 crore, profit receivable from hotel belonging to Chhabria located at Delhi Airport worth Rs 13.67 crore and three high-end luxury cars worth Rs 3.10 crore.

Further, attached assets of Avinash Bhosale were in the form of a duplex flat belonging to Bhosale, located in Mumbai worth Rs 102.8 crore, one land parcel located at Pune worth Rs 14.65 crore, one more land parcel located at Pune worth Rs 29.24 crore, a land parcel located at Nagpur worth Rs 15.52 crore and another portion of land located at Nagpur to the extent of Rs 1.45 crore. The ED has also arrested Sanjay Chhabria and Avinash Bhosale in June and both are in judicial custody.

9. Nawab Malik in money laundering case

Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Nawab Malik has had links with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s D-company for a long time, according to the investigation of the ED against him in connection with a money laundering case.

The ED has filed a prosecution complaint (chargesheet) before the Special PMLA court in Mumbai. In the prosecution complaint, the ED mentioned Malik’s alleged link to the D-company, and purported conspiracy to “usurp” the Goawala building compound in Kurla West in 1996. Malik is in ED custody.

10. Farooq Abdullah in J&K Cricket Association fund scam

The ED filed a supplementary chargesheet against former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) fund scam. The case relates to the siphoning-off of JKCA funds by way of transfer to various personal bank accounts of unrelated parties including those of office bearers of JKCA and by way of unexplained cash withdrawals from JKCA bank accounts.

The ED initiated a money laundering investigation on the basis of a chargesheet filed by the CBI on July 11, 2018, against office bearers of JKCA in the case dated September 21, 2015. The quantum of proceeds of crime identified by ED in this case so far is Rs 51.9 crore out of which assets worth Rs 21.55 crore have been attached by ED.

Besides these cases, the Enforcement Directorate in February attached Rs 1.77 crore of Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub in a money laundering case. According to an official, Ayyub utilized the parts of donations meant for three campaigns, for personal expenses.

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Global challenges call for practical solutions, says India



In response to the global implications of the Ukraine-Russia war, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri emphasized the importance of pragmatic approaches in dealing with challenges and crises. Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting during a session on ‘energy and rivalry,’ Puri cited India’s example, highlighting the country’s swift and pragmatic response to the energy crisis triggered by the conflict.

Puri, who serves as the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas as well as Housing and Urban Affairs, underscored India’s commitment to addressing domestic needs, particularly the responsibility of providing three meals a day to its large population. Despite these challenges, Puri emphasized that India has not allowed its domestic compulsions to hinder global commitments toward a sustainable future.

Acknowledging the necessity of pragmatism, European Commission’s Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, concurred with Puri’s perspective. The discussion among panellists, representing various sectors, delved into the interlinkage of energy and geopolitics, with countries openly competing to diversify their global energy supplies, encompassing oil, gas, and clean energy solutions.

The discussion at the World Economic Forum highlighted the critical nature of energy security and its intersection with geopolitical dynamics. Panellists, including representatives from industry and academia, delved into the challenges posed by the interlinked nature of energy and global politics. As nations openly compete to diversify their energy sources, the need for resilient and secure energy supply chains has become paramount. The session underscored the urgency for collaborative and pragmatic solutions to address the evolving energy landscape.

Minister Hardeep Singh Puri emphasized India’s strategic decision-making in the face of the Ukraine-Russia war, particularly in managing the potential fallout on fuel prices. He reiterated that India’s ability to navigate these challenges pragmatically has not only shielded the country from drastic fuel price hikes but has also showcased its commitment to global sustainability goals. The minister’s insights shed light on the delicate balance India maintains between addressing domestic needs and upholding international commitments.

Kadri Simson, the European Commission’s Commissioner for Energy, echoed the sentiment of pragmatism, acknowledging its necessity in the complex realm of global energy dynamics. The acknowledgment from European quarters underscores the shared understanding that nations must adopt flexible and practical approaches to secure their energy future while addressing domestic imperatives. Simson’s perspective further emphasized the need for a cooperative and adaptable global approach to energy challenges.

The evolving energy landscape has witnessed shifts not only in terms of traditional resources like oil and gas but also in the growing emphasis on clean energy solutions. The panelists explored how countries are actively seeking cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to meet their energy needs. The discussions underscored the importance of technological innovation, renewable energy adoption, and collaborative international efforts to address climate change and ensure a secure energy future.

In short, the session provided a platform for diverse voices to converge on the challenges and opportunities arising at the nexus of energy and geopolitics. As the world grapples with the aftermath of global crises, India’s pragmatic approach serves as a testament to the importance of adaptive policymaking and global collaboration in securing a sustainable and resilient energy future for nations across the globe.

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PM Modi empowers 1 lakh tribals with Rs 540 crore launch



Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured inclusive development on Monday, stating that the benefits of welfare schemes must reach everyone, even those in the remotest areas, as he released the first instalment of Rs 540 crore for one lakh beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM-JANMAN). Highlighting a decade of dedication to the welfare of the poor, Modi emphasized the substantial increase in the budgets of welfare schemes for Scheduled Tribes and the growth in scholarships for tribal students. The government aims to construct over 500 Eklavya model schools to enhance educational opportunities for tribal communities.

Prime Minister Modi credited President Droupadi Murmu, India’s first tribal woman head of state, for her guidance in formulating the PM-JANMAN scheme. He noted that Diwali celebrations extend to the homes of one lakh families benefiting from the rural housing scheme, emphasizing the joy brought by the first instalment of funds for constructing their own houses.

Modi underscored the government’s commitment to ensuring that extremely backward sections of the tribal population benefit from every welfare scheme. He highlighted the government’s efforts in constructing more than four crore pucca houses for the poor, reaching out to those previously ignored, and emphasized the worship of marginalized communities.

During the event, Prime Minister Modi interacted with beneficiaries of PM-JANMAN who shared positive changes in their lives, including access to cooking gas, electricity, piped water, and housing. He reiterated the government’s endeavour to leave no one out of its welfare schemes, emphasizing the comprehensive approach to socio-economic development.

The first instalment of Rs 540 crore was released for beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin under the PM-JANMAN scheme. Launched for Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), the scheme focuses on 11 critical interventions through nine ministries, with a budget of approximately Rs 24,000 crore. The aim is to improve the socio-economic conditions of PVTGs by providing basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water, sanitation, education, health, nutrition, electricity, road connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Aligned with the vision of Antyodaya to empower the last person at the last mile, PM-JANMAN represents the government’s commitment to uplift PVTGs. The Prime Minister reaffirmed his dedication to the socio-economic welfare of these vulnerable groups and the ongoing efforts to address their basic needs and uplift their living standards.

Prime Minister Modi’s interaction with beneficiaries showcased the tangible impact of government initiatives on improving the lives of individuals. The release of the first instalment, totalling Rs 540 crore, reflects the government’s sustained commitment to addressing the housing needs of rural communities. Additionally, the acceptance of proposals worth Rs 4700 crore by various ministries underscores a comprehensive approach, covering pucca houses, roads, girls’ hostels, Anganwadi centers, medical units, and multipurpose centers. This acceptance signifies a proactive stance in addressing the pressing needs of extremely backward regions.

The overarching vision of inclusive development was further emphasized as Prime Minister Modi discussed the significance of Diwali celebrations reaching the homes of families benefitting from the housing scheme. This symbolic connection between a national festival and the distribution of funds underscores the government’s commitment to ensuring that the fruits of development and welfare schemes reach every household, fostering a sense of joy and prosperity.

The launch of PM-JANMAN and its subsequent implementation highlight the practical realization of the Antyodaya vision, where the welfare of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities takes precedence. With a substantial budget allocation and a focus on critical interventions, the scheme reflects the government’s intent to create a holistic impact on the socio-economic conditions of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups. Prime Minister Modi’s direct engagement with beneficiaries reinforces the message that the government is not only delivering promises but actively seeking feedback to fine-tune its initiatives for maximum impact and inclusivity.

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Five mega projects revving up India in 2024



India is poised to unveil a slew of significant infrastructure projects in 2024, marking a pivotal stride toward bolstering the nation’s development landscape. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to inaugurate five major infrastructure projects, including the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), Navi Mumbai International Airport, Noida International Airport, Western Dedicated Freight Corridor, and the Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway, ahead of the 2024 elections.

The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, stretching over 21.6 km, connects Mumbai city with mainland Navi Mumbai and is set for inauguration on January 12. This ambitious project aims to significantly truncate travel time between the two regions to a mere 20-25 minutes, rendering it the longest sea bridge constructed in India. With an estimated cost of INR 18,000 crore, the MTHL is a culmination of years of planning and a testament to infrastructural advancement.

Scheduled for operational readiness by the end of 2024, the Noida International Airport, constructed by Yamuna International Airport Private Ltd, is taking shape with rapid progress. Currently, around 80 percent of the airport’s runway work is complete, and the air traffic control building is nearing finalization. This greenfield airport, situated in the Jewar area of Gautam Buddh Nagar district, will serve as the second international commercial airport in the National Capital Region (NCR) and is projected to accommodate millions of passengers annually upon full completion.

The Navi Mumbai International Airport, managed by Adani Airports Holdings Ltd., is another critical infrastructure venture expected to commence operations in 2024. Located at Ulwe in Navi Mumbai, this airport, sprawling over 1,160 hectares, aims to handle substantial air traffic and cargo, further reinforcing the aviation network within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

These infrastructural milestones, coupled with the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway, underscore India’s commitment to fostering connectivity, economic growth, and enhanced accessibility across major regions. The completion of these projects is anticipated to catalyze economic development, ease transportation bottlenecks, and elevate India’s infrastructure to new heights.

These anticipated inaugurations represent a significant leap in India’s infrastructural evolution, reflecting a concerted effort to modernize transportation, stimulate economic growth, and alleviate regional disparities. With these ambitious projects set to become operational in 2024, India stands on the brink of a transformative phase, poised to harness the potential of enhanced connectivity, expedited logistics, and amplified economic opportunities for its populace. As the nation gears up to unveil these monumental endeavours, the forthcoming year holds promise for elevating India’s infrastructural prowess on the global stage.



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December inflation in India likely neared 6% due to food prices



India’s retail inflation appears to have inched up in December, largely attributed to higher food prices, signalling a consistent climb for the fourth successive month. An economist poll by Reuters forecasted that the consumer price index (CPI) gauge for inflation may have risen to 5.87% in December from 5.55% in November. This ascent, largely steered by elevated food prices, especially vegetables and household staples, keeps inflation figures within the Reserve Bank of India’s target range for now.

The survey, conducted among 56 economists, envisioned a range for December’s inflation between 5.00% and 6.40%, with nearly one-third of the respondents predicting inflation to touch or surpass 6.00%. The uptick is particularly attributed to soaring food inflation, with pulses, spices, vegetables, and fruit prices contributing significantly to the overall rise in prices, as noted by Kunal Kundu, an economist at Societe Generale.

The Reserve Bank of India had hiked the repo rate by a cumulative 250 basis points since May 2022 in an attempt to temper surging inflation. However, with inflationary pressures easing, the central bank has maintained the rates since April 2023. Another Reuters poll suggests that the repo rate is likely to remain at 6.50% at least until the second half of the current year. Economists anticipate headline inflation to persist above the medium-term target of 4.00% in the upcoming months, averaging around 4.8% in the fiscal year starting in April. Suvodeep Rakshit, a senior economist at Kotak Institutional Equities, suggests that while a sustained return of headline inflation to 4% isn’t expected over the next year, the December readings might represent the peak going forward.

This persistent inflationary trajectory, particularly driven by soaring food prices, stands as a key economic concern, impacting households’ purchasing power and budgetary constraints. The increasing cost of essential commodities like vegetables, pulses, and spices has contributed significantly to the surge in headline inflation. If the anticipated rise in December’s inflation figures materializes, it would mark a four-month high, reflecting the ongoing pressure on consumer prices.

The continuous elevation of inflation towards the upper bounds of the RBI’s target range poses a challenge for monetary policy. The central bank has adopted a cautious approach, maintaining interest rates steady since April 2023, after a series of hikes aimed at taming the rising inflation. This stability in rates comes as a balancing act, striving to manage inflationary pressures without hindering economic growth, ensuring a delicate equilibrium in India’s monetary landscape.

Amidst these inflationary trends, the RBI is anticipated to keep a vigilant eye on evolving price dynamics, seeking to anchor inflation within the targeted range. Economists are closely observing the persistent food-driven inflation to gauge its sustainability and the potential implications for monetary policy adjustments. The coming months will remain pivotal as policymakers navigate through the delicate interplay between inflation management, economic growth, and maintaining price stability.

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Curbing energy use saves big $2 trillion annually for global economy



A new study by the World Economic Forum (WEF) unveiled a set of strategic business actions poised to significantly decrease global energy demand, potentially unlocking annual savings of over USD 2 trillion by the end of the decade. The report, released ahead of the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos, highlighted that these targeted measures not only aim to curtail energy intensity but also promise to spur economic growth and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

The collaborative report, developed in partnership with PwC and backed by more than 120 global CEOs from the WEF’s International Business Council (IBC), emphasizes that implementing the right policy frameworks can trigger growth, enhance productivity, generate cost savings for companies, confer competitive advantages, and contribute to emission reduction.

This strategic initiative aligns with the commitments made during the United Nations climate change conference COP28. Governments pledged to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030 and double the rate of energy efficiency improvement over the same period. The study underscores the need for countries to accelerate efforts, urging a doubling of the pace of reducing energy intensity between 2023 and 2030, necessitating substantial changes primarily driven by the private sector.

The WEF outlined specific actionable steps that businesses can adopt to address energy demand, focusing on slashing energy intensity across buildings, industries, and transportation sectors. These measures encompass a spectrum of strategies, ranging from leveraging artificial intelligence for optimizing factory line designs to embracing energy-efficient practices, collaborating across value chains, establishing industrial clusters to promote clean energy initiatives, retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, and transitioning to electrified transport systems. The emphasis lies on practical and tangible steps that industries can undertake to significantly reduce energy consumption and drive sustainable practices across sectors.

These outlined measures underscore the critical role that businesses play in spearheading transformative change towards a more energy-efficient future. Embracing these strategies not only promises substantial economic savings but also aligns with global climate objectives, contributing to the overarching goal of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

The WEF’s report serves as a call to action, highlighting the urgent need for concerted efforts from the private sector to drive tangible reductions in energy intensity. By fostering collaboration, innovation, and the adoption of sustainable practices, businesses can lead the charge in reshaping energy consumption patterns, ultimately fostering a more resilient and environmentally conscious global economy.

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Electronics and services exports to contain slide in growth rate of trade



In the dynamic world of international trade, India faces a complex scenario as it endeavors to navigate global challenges and capitalize on potential opportunities. A recent report by the Global Trade Research Initiative (GTRI) sheds light on the country’s trade prospects for 2023. Despite an anticipated 2.6% decline in overall trade, the report underscores the resilience in specific sectors, such as electronic goods and services. This comprehensive analysis delves into the factors influencing India’s trade dynamics, examining both the areas of growth and the sectors grappling with challenges.

The GTRI report projects a 2.6% decline in India’s exports and imports of goods and services, reaching $1,609 billion in 2023 compared to $1,651.9 billion in the previous year. This aligns with a global trend, where the World Trade Organization (WTO) forecasts a meager 0.8% growth in the global merchandise trade volume for 2023.

Amidst the challenges, certain sectors are poised for growth in 2023. Notably, the report identifies electronic goods, particularly smartphones, as a beacon of success. Smartphone exports are expected to surge by an impressive 93% to $14 billion, marking a significant contribution to the overall rise in India’s electronics exports, which reached $26.8 billion, reflecting a 26.2% growth. This surge in smartphone exports positions India as a key player in the global electronics market.

The services sector is anticipated to exhibit resilience, with a projected 10.5% increase in services exports to $333.5 billion in 2023. This positive trajectory is noteworthy as it underscores the importance of India’s expertise in areas such as IT, software services, and other knowledge-based industries. While services imports may record flat growth at $176.4 billion, the overall services sector performance remains promising.

However, not all sectors share the optimistic outlook. Traditional sectors such as engineering goods, petroleum products, chemicals, gems and jewelry, and textiles are expected to face declines in 2023. The challenges in these sectors are attributed to weak global demand and a gradual erosion of India’s competitiveness in labor-intensive industries. GTRI Co-Founder Ajay Srivastava notes that exports of petroleum products may witness a decline of over 9% to $86 billion.

The report indicates that India’s merchandise exports may decline by 5.3% to $429.4 billion in 2023, reflecting global trends with a 5% decline, as per UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update. Importantly, gold imports are expected to increase by over 18% to $43.33 billion, suggesting a unique dynamic within the trade scenario.

An intriguing aspect highlighted in the report is the discrepancy between the depreciation of the Indian Rupee (INR) against the US Dollar ($) and its impact on export volumes. Despite a considerable depreciation of the INR from 77.5 in June 2022 to 82.1 in June 2023, the expected increase in export volumes did not materialize. Typically, a weaker domestic currency enhances a country’s export competitiveness, but India’s case presents a nuanced scenario.

In conclusion, India’s trade landscape for 2023 is a complex tapestry of challenges and opportunities. While overall trade is expected to decline, the robust performance of the electronic goods and services sectors, particularly smartphones, offers a glimmer of hope. Navigating the evolving global trade dynamics requires strategic interventions to revitalize traditional sectors and sustain growth in emerging ones. As India continues to position itself in the global marketplace, policymakers and industry stakeholders must collaborate to harness the nation’s potential and address the multifaceted challenges inherent in the international trade arena.

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