DK Shivkumar (Image: PTI)
Senior Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar on Friday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in a money laundering case, officials said. He arrived at the agency's headquarters in Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, around 6:30 pm and was accompanied by his supporters.
After arriving in the national capital from Bengaluru, he said. "It is my duty (to appear)... I have to respect the law. We are law-makers and law abiding citizens. They (ED) have summoned me... I don't know why they have called me under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)."
"But, let me see, hear them. I am ready to face them (ED)," the MLA from Kanakapura assembly seat told reporters before entering the agency's office. Officials said the statement of the former state minister will be recorded under PMLA. Shivakumar had to appear before the agency after the Karnataka High Court on Thursday dismissed his petition challenging the summons issued to him by the ED.
Earlier in the day, Shivakumar indicated that his "instrumental role" in ensuring safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017, amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them, was the reason for the I-T searches and subsequent ED action of the central agencies against him.
The central agency had in September last year registered a money laundering case against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
ED case has been filed based on a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income-Tax Department against him last year before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores. I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his associate S K Sharma of transporting huge amount of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with help of three other accused.
"As per facts and analysis of evidences, it is clear that accused number 1 (Shivakumar) has set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bengaluru in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash," the department had said.
Other accused are Sachin Narayan, Anjaneya Hanumanthaiah and N Rajendra, it had said.
According to the tax department, Narayan is a business partner of Shivakumar and Sharma is the proprietor of Sharma Transports, which runs a fleet of luxury and passenger buses and provides transport services to various concerns and individuals on rental basis. Haumanthaiah is an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, allegedly responsible for storing and handling unaccounted cash of Shivakumar in Delhi, it had said in the complaint.
Rajendra is a caretaker of Karnataka Bhavan and works for Sharma, besides looking after immovable properties of Shivakumar and Sharma, it said. The tax department had alleged that all five accused conspired to evade tax.
"The analysis of evidences shows that the minister (Shivakumar) has set up an extensive network of persons and premises across Delhi and Bengaluru in order to transport and utilise unaccounted cash," it alleged.
He was allegedly involved in organised tax evasion as part of conspiracy by engaging others, the department said. Unaccounted cash of approximately Rs 20 crore was found and seized during raids in New Delhi and Bengaluru in August, 2017 which were directly relatable to Shivakumar, it had said.