New Delhi: More than Rs 30 crore worth of assets, including an elite set of Bentley, Ferrari and Mercedes cars, of a Mumbai-based wood smuggler have been attached by a special money laundering court here as criminal proceeds of his illegal acts.
The court has issued orders to freeze and subsequently seize the properties and movable assets of Ajit Bapu Satam on the request of Mumbai office of Enforcement Directorate (ED) which had attached these assets in February.
Satam was arrested by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in 2011 in connection with the smuggling of Red Sanders wood even as a number of Customs related offences against him are on for a period between 1999-2000.
"...I am prima facie convinced that all defendants...Had generated proceeds of crime as per the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, generated proceeds of crime and therefore, I order confirmation of the provisional attachment order," the order of the Chairman (Acting) of the Adjudicating Authority of the PMLA K Raamamoorthy said.
The ED had filed the case against 13 people including Satam`s wife Maya.
The Authority is the appellate judicial body to authorise the action undertaken by the agency under the stringent PMLA.
The properties attached by the agency includes a plot worth over Rs 2.65 crore in Mumbai`s Khar area, an amount of more than Rs 14.51 crore in various banks and an assorted lineup of some of the best high-end cars in the world.
The luxury cars include two Bentleys`, three Mercedes Benz, a Ferrari 430, a BMW X5 SUV and a Volkswagen Passat.
The DRI, in its investigation reports, which were perused by the court before deciding this case, said that Satam "along with others, during the period between January 2010-September 2011 in Mumbai, Dubai, Kolhapur, Vadgaon and other places was member of a long-time criminal conspirators smuggling large quantity of Red Sanders."
The DRI investigation had found out that this syndicate, especially Satam had "exported around 40 containers of Red Sanders to Dubai and earned illegal income of approximately Rs 40 crore."
The ED, which took over the case from DRI to probe money laundering instances, said the scrutiny of bank accounts and registration papers of the cars "revealed that the movable properties were purchased by Satam utilising the cash generated out of smuggling of Red Sanders..."
The export of Red Sanders is prohibited under Section 11 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.