ED started investigating 7,105 cases in 2015-2018, almost double of 3,656 for 2012-2015.
The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has attached and seized assets worth more than Rs 26,000 crore in the last three financial years, from 2015 to 2018, a jump of almost three-and-a-half times from the corresponding figure for the preceding three years of Rs 7,500 crore.
Highly-placed official sources in the ED told The Sunday Guardian that the investigating agency had initiated investigation in 7,105 cases in the last three years, almost double of the 3,656 cases in which it had initiated investigation between 2012 and 2015.
According to the sources, the ED, which has been investigating several high profile cases that involve individuals like its former boss P. Chidambaram, fugitive business tycoons Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, apart from the VVIP helicopter scam, has been given complete freedom from the highest level of the government, especially the post November 2016 demonetisation, to go after the corrupt.
This has resulted in the manifold increase in ED’s action in the last 3-4 years. The agency, which reports to the Ministry of Finance and deals with all important cases related to money laundering, black money and “hawala” transactions, has now emerged much stronger than before as it has gained eminence and credibility in the recent years.
A top ED official said, “Despite staff shortage, we have tried to make an impact, something which can be gauged from our work. In the three-year period of 2015-18, we have completed and disposed of 880 Enforcement Case Information Reports (ECIRs), equivalent to police FIRs. Of these, chargesheets were filed in 286 cases, while the rest were closed.”
“The number of searches conducted during 2012-15 was 78, but the figure rose to 970 in the next three years. Individuals arrested in these cases also went up to 104, which is almost three-and-a-half times more than that of 2012-15 (29 arrests),” he added.
Presently, the agency has around 1,000 staffers in its armour. “We are facing an acute staff crunch as we are working with just half of the sanctioned strength. Our resources are overstretched and in many cases one single officer is handling multiple cases. Despite our best efforts, this affects our working as many of the cases involve investigations on multiple fronts and at multiple places,” the official rued.