Roar for Tigers

Tiger skin traders to face money laundering probe

Tiger skin traders to face money laundering probe

Jan 22, 2014

Tiger skins and body parts traders Surajpal Jagmohan Koli alias Chat, Sarju Bagdi and Naresh Lala, who are already face cases under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, will also be booked under the Money Laundering Act 2002. On January 20, the office of SS Mishra, additional principal chief conservator of forests (APCCF), wildlife, east, Nagpur, received a letter from Anil Ramteke, joint director of enforcement under the ministry of finance, seeking documents related to cases filed against Chacha, Sarju and Lala. The letter speaks of the intent to file cases under the anti-money laundering act. Mishra confirmed having received such a communication. “I have asked CCFs of Nagpur and Melghat to hand over requisite papers related to the cases against three tiger skin traders,” said Mishra. However, according to official sources, the communication between the forest department and enforcement directorate has been going on for the past two months. Earlier it pertained to only Chacha, but now Sarju and Lala have been added to the list. Chacha is an internationally known tiger skin trader while Sarju and Lala assisted him and acted as couriers. Chacha had loaned Rs20 lakh to Sarju to procure five tiger skins from Amdi Fata near Nagpur last year. In a joint operation by Delhi police, Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and Maharashtra forest department, Pal (65), Lala (32) and Sarju (30), all from Sonepat in Haryana, were arrested in September first week. Police had seized Rs50.72 lakh cash, a luxury car, bones, nails, skull and canines of tiger from the three. Cases have been filed against them in Delhi, Melghat and Nagpur. On September 25, 2013, then joint director of Enforcement Directorate had written to APCCF (wildlife) about a probe against Chacha under the Money Laundering Act. “We are probing money laundering and generation of properties derived out of proceeds of crime and confiscation,” said Enforcement Directorate officials. The issue of cash seizure from Chacha had also figured in the court of judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) AY Borkar during hearing in the bail application by Chacha. The counsel for accused had said that the income-tax department had been apprised about the seizure of huge cash from Chacha, though he had failed to produce any documents in this regard. This was one of the reasons for rejection of bail of the accused.


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