ED’s scope of probe under PMLA increased 2.5 times in six years

Recently, Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets worth Rs 757.8 crore of Amway India Enterprises in connection with an alleged marketing scam.

It claimed that Amway was running a multi-level marketing scam.

The ED provisionally attached immovable and movable properties worth Rs 411.83 crore and bank balances of Rs 345.94 crore from 36 different accounts belonging to Amway.

Data from the Department of Economic Affairs shows that in 2021-22 (until December 2021), ED had provisionally attached Rs 8,989.3 crore worth of assets.

The adjudicating authority confirmed nearly two-thirds of it or Rs 5,779.1 crore.

“After the provisional attachment is confirmed by the adjudicating authority, wherein it is held that the property is involved in money laundering, the Directorate of Enforcement takes possession of the property, and the offenders do not enjoy the property, and thus it no longer remains a provisional measure,” according to a Department of Economic Affairs report.

In 2020-21, of the Rs 14,107.6 crore attached under provisional attachment order (PAO), half or Rs 7,104.2 crore was confirmed by the adjudicating authority.

A Business Standard analysis found that the government investigation body has increased the scope of its investigations over the last six years.

In 2016-17, ED had issued 4,567 summons, conducted 226 searches and made 31 arrests.

In 2021-22 (until December 2021), 11,252 summons had been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 572 searches had been conducted and 54 arrests had been made.

In the previous year, ED had made 78 arrests.

Further analysis shows that of the Rs 96,868.85 crore of assets provisionally attached by ED since 2005, over Rs 67,000 crore had been provisionally attached in the last four years.

However, adjudication of PAOs declined during this period.

In 2018-19, for instance, of the Rs 15,490 crore provisionally attached by ED, Rs 13,175 crore was cleared by the adjudicating authority.

But in 2019-20, only Rs 7,449 crore of the Rs 28,815 crore had been cleared by the adjudicating authority.

The ratio of assets cleared in 2020-21 and 2021-22 (until December 2021) was 50 per cent and 64 per cent, respectively.

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