A series of raids were unleashed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Bengaluru, Raichur, and Ballari on Wednesday as part of the probe into the alleged unauthorized transfer of Rs 88 crore out of the Rs 187 crore that belonged to the Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation. 

Following outcry after the revelation of the scam, the corporation has recovered ₹28 crore from the unauthorized transactions. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has seized Rs 14.5 crore out of the remaining ₹60 crore.

The raids that happened in over 20 places were linked to Congress Ballari Rural MLA Nagendra, who recently resigned from his post as minister for Scheduled Tribes Welfare in the Siddaramaiah government on June 6 after his alleged involvement in the scam surfaced. Another Congress Raichur Rural MLA Basanagouda Daddal is the Chairman of the corporation. 

ED has also searched Nagendra’s three residences — two in Bengaluru and one in Ballari city. Daddal’s residence in Raichur, his room in the Legislator’s Home in Bengaluru, and the corporation’s head office in Vasanth Nagar were also raided. Both the legislators were present at their residences during the raids. Subsequently, they were questioned by ED as part of the investigation.

 Political Analyst Rajendra Chenni commented, “The recent raid by the ED is part of the central government exercising its powers to show there is a collision in the State government. This might be done to create a feeling of inadequacy and destabilise the government.” 

 A day earlier, both ministers were questioned regarding the alleged scam by the State government nominated SIT, which to date, has arrested 11 persons. 

 The ‘scam’ was detected after Chandrasekharan P, the Accounts Superintendent of the Corporation, who allegedly took his own life in May. In a suicide note, he mentioned the alleged transfer of ₹88 crore.

 “The State government has initiated an SIT probe and is interrogating people. There is a provision that if banks defraud more than three crores, they also can ask the CBI and ED to inquire. As a party, we will wait for the outcomes of the raid and investigation. Ultimately, the culprits must face the consequences and the law of the land,” said B L Shankar, Congress spokesperson. 

According to reports, ED also raided key accused J. J. Padmanabh, Managing Director of the corporation, Parashuram, the corporation’s accountant, three employees of the Union Bank of India, M. G. Road branch in Bengaluru where the alleged money laundering happened. Interestingly the ED has taken security cover from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for the raids and not that of the Karnataka State Police.