Enforecement Directorate probe into TR’s foreign transactions

indian-rupeesNEW DELHI: Nudged by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), various agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, are probing allegations that Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang has stashed away nearly Rs 80 crore in illegal accounts abroad.

Interestingly, the investigations have been triggered by a letter written by CM himself to RBI, refuting the allegations about his ill-gotten wealth, leveled by rebels in Zeliang’s Naga People’s Front (NPF). The RBI has referred his letter to ED among others, sources said. The CM has told RBI that he does not hold any bank account outside India and the “purpose, origin and source” of the funds, it at all it exists, is unknown to him. He requested RBI to carry out necessary investigations into the allegations.

Sources in investigation agencies told TOI that they do have preliminary information regarding certain foreign fund transactions in favour of one Mr Zeliang. However, it is not clear if it is the chief minister, or someone else with the same name. Preliminary investigations indicate that almost Rs 78.66 crore (Singapore dollars 1,70,08,500) have been transferred to accounts in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The NPF rebels had recently accused him of indulging in money laundering. They claimed to have documents to show money transfers to the accounts of both the CM and his wife.

They said the documents show transfers to the accounts of the couple in Hong Kong and Kuala Lampur. The remittances had originated from Singapore, they alleged.

Rebel legislators Noke Wangnao and G Kaito Aye had claimed that crores of rupees had moved into the accounts of the CM and his wife. According to their documents, 70,00,000 Singapore Dollars (approx Rs 35 crore) were transferred to Zeliang’s account on August 16, 2014 in Royal Bank of Canada (Hong Kong) by one Ramasamy Veeran.

Another amount of 1,00,08,500 (approx Rs 50 crore) Singapore Dollar was transferred to the account of Zeliang’s wife, Kevizenuo Rangkau, on September 26, the rebels alleged.

The rebels had accused the CM of using the ill-gotten money to lure legislators and party workers to his camp. “A syndicate of few ministers and politicians are secretly running the affairs of the state and making unbelievable amounts of money for their personal gains,” a statement from the rebels had said.

The RBI has referred the CM’s request to ED for necessary action under FEMA (foreign exchange management act). It has also suggested invoking guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global coalition of governments to counter money laundering and related threats to international financial system. Financial Intelligence Unit could also be involved in the probe, sources said.

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