Koda probe papers lost in UAE: ED to SC
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Enforcement Directorate's investigation into the money laundering case involving former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda had hit a bizarre impediment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) when the Indian embassy "misplaced or lost" some very important documents relating to the probe. Moreover, there was no effort to retrieve them nor was any complaint filed regarding the loss. The ED, while terming it as "strange," has now said that this incident was "indicative" of the influence of the accused.
ED disclosed the loss of relevant documents in Dubai in an affidavit in the Supreme Court as it opposed Koda's bail plea. These documents formed part of the request by the ED to UAE as it sought details about few companies and individuals based in Dubai, their bank statements, remittances and other financial transactions.
The request was sent in March 2010 and a supplementary letter was sent six months later. The additional letter was regarding investigating the role of Koda's Pune-based associate Anil Adinath Bastavade in allegedly investing more than Rs 200 crore in real estate in Dubai. The money, as per the ED, was sent through hawala and was generated through illegalities by Koda during his chief ministerial term.
However, the Consulate General of India, Dubai, by a letter in November 2011 intimated that UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs returned the relevant documents to the mission for their attestation by the Competent Authority.
ED claimed that it has not till date got hold of these documents and there was no investigation done subsequently to ascertain how they were "lost in transit". It claimed the incident was significant since a number of accused persons were absconding and making all attempts to thwart the ongoing investigations.
"It is very strange that very important original documents get misplaced or lost at the hands of embassy officials when diplomatic channels and pouches are considered safest world over coupled with the fact that no efforts were made to retrieve them and not even a complaint filed. It is submitted that this perhaps by itself is indicative of the influence likely to be wielded especially when the absconding accused are suspected to be in the same country or neighbouring country where the documents are lost," ED said.
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