Amid a spike in raids conducted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during the past few years, with several persons, including political leaders having been booked in cases of money laundering under various provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), there has been a stupendous rise of over 500 per cent in the number of cases recorded by the agency in the last four years.
According to finance ministry sources, between 2018-19 and 2021-22, cases registered by ED rose by 505 per cent, as from 195 cases recorded by ED in 2018-19, the cases recorded by the agency went up to 1,180 in 2021-22.
Even the number of searches conducted by ED have rise by a huge 2,555 per cent between 2004-14 and 2014-22.
As per finance ministry's own data, only 112 searches were carried out by ED between 2004-14 which resulted in attachment of proceeds of crime worth Rs 5,346 crore.
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However between 2014-22, the number of searches rose to 2,974, a rise of 2,555 per cent, which resulted in attachment of proceeds of crime worth Rs 95,432.08 crore.
The humongous rise in the number of cases recorded and searches conducted by ED in the past few years, has led to allegations of witch-hunting by the opposition parties against the BJP-ruled central government.
Opposition parties have repeatedly blamed the central government for using agencies like the ED and CBI against them as political weapons.
The government on its part however says that the increase in the number of searches shows it's commitment to prevent money laundering and improved systems for gathering financial intelligence through use of technology.
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Official sources say that concerted efforts to complete pending investigations in old cases and probe in complex money laundering cases that have multiple accused requiring multiple searches, are some of the reasons for the increase in number of searches in recent times.
ED is an investigation agency, which is mandated with the task of enforcing provisions of FEMA, PMLA and Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.