ED questions Telangana Congress MLA on ‘suspicious’ ₹8 crore transaction on eve of Assembly elections

The case pertains to alleged movement of funds through hawala routes and a violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jan 18, 2024 | 11:16 PMUpdatedJan 18, 2024 | 11:16 PM

Congress leader and Chennur MLA Vivek Venkataswamy. (Sourced)

Chennur Congress MLA G Vivek Venkataswamy presented himself before officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Hyderabad, on Thursday, 18 January, in connection with a case registered against him on the eve of the recent Assembly elections in the state.

The case pertains to alleged movement of funds through hawala routes and a violation of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FEMA). The ED is investigating a money laundering angle in the case.

A former Member of Parliament, Venkataswamy joined the Congress just prior to the Assembly elections, departing from the BJP where he felt less at ease.

Also Read: I-T sleuths conduct searches at Congress candidate Vivek Venkataswamy’s residences, offices 

The investigation

In November 2023, ED officials conducted searches in the offices of Visaka Industries, revealing that Vigilance Security Services, which received ₹8 crore from Visaka, was a fictitious company. Venkataswamy, a Non-Executive and Non-Independent Director, as well as the Chairperson of Visaka Industries, was implicated.

The ED initiated a case against Venkataswamy based on an FIR filed by the Saifabad Police. According to the police, acting on instructions from the Chief Electoral Officer of Telangana, they investigated the ₹8 crore transaction between Visaka Industries Pvt Ltd and Vigilance Security Services Pvt Ltd on 13 November.

They froze the ₹8 crore in the latter’s account during their inquiry.

Reportedly, the money was transferred from an HDFC Bank (Begumpet branch) account belonging to Visaka Industries Pvt Ltd, to an IDBI Bank (Basheerbagh branch) account belonging to Vigilance Security Services Pvt Ltd at — Account No 0142003072600.

Given that the transaction occurred ahead of the Telangana Assembly elections, the ED suspects that Venkataswamy attempted to funnel the money for election purposes in Chennur.

Also Read: ED establishes connection between G Vivekanand and Vigilance Services in ₹8-crore transaction

ED raids

On 22 November 2023, the ED conducted raids at Venkataswamy’s residences and offices in Somajiguda and Chennur, seizing documents and electronic devices.

Expressing strong objection to the ED raids, the Congress party, then in opposition, alleged that they was clear proof of the BJP employing its investigative agencies against political rivals.

Revanth Reddy, who was the PCC President at the time, took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of covertly aiding then chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao to win the Assembly elections.