Tamil Nadu police arrest ED official in bribery case after high-speed chase

Categories: News, PMLA

Tamil Nadu Police on Friday arrested a senior officer of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on bribery charges after an eight-kilometre chase on the Dindigul-Madurai highway.

Officers of the state’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) also raided the sub-divisional office of the ED in Madurai, and the residence of the arrested ED officer, Ankit Tiwari.

A 2016-batch officer, Tiwari had previously served in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, and is currently posted in Madurai. He was arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a government doctor in Dindigul.

The DVAC action comes at a time when the ED has been actively pursuing several cases that the state agency had initiated under the previous government against current Tamil Nadu ministers and officials. It also comes amid a legal battle between the ED and the Tamil Nadu government regarding the central agency’s probe into illegal sand mining in the state.

The complainant in the case that led to Tiwari’s arrest, a government doctor, had been embroiled in a disproportionate assets case registered in 2018. The proceedings of the case had been completed with the doctor facing departmental action. However, in early November, he was summoned by the ED’s Madurai office.

“The doctor was informed about the possibility of his case being reopened by the ED, similar to other state vigilance cases the agency has reopened against prominent figures in Tamil Nadu,” a senior vigilance officer said. The doctor was allegedly threatened with arrest and coerced into paying a bribe of Rs 3 crore to avoid the ED probe, which was later negotiated down to Rs 50 lakh, the official said. According to the official, “The initial payment of Rs 20 lakh was made, with the remaining amount due on Friday morning, leading to Tiwari’s arrest.”

The complainant informed the DVAC about the alleged bribery, and worked with them to catch Tiwari red-handed, officials said. Tiwari visited the doctor’s residence in Dindigul to allegedly collect the remaining bribe on Friday morning. On his way back to Madurai, DVAC sleuths intercepted Tiwari’s vehicle at around 9 am.

Led by DSP Nagaraj of the DVAC’s Madurai wing, the arrest was the culmination of a high-speed pursuit.

“Tiwari was driving his own car, and at one point, we had to chase him for about 8 km on the Madurai-Dindigul highway before taking him into custody. We have information suggesting that not only Tiwari, but also his colleagues, including some senior officers of the Madurai ED office, are involved in this bribery case,” a DVAC official said.

Top sources in the DVAC said they secured CCTV evidence of the alleged cash exchange that happened at the doctor’s residence, involving bundles of Rs 500 notes, totalling Rs 20 lakh. Further evidence of the prior Rs 20 lakh payment, which happened elsewhere, has also been secured, they said.

Sources said the doctor’s visit to the ED office in early November was also formally recorded, with official visitor entries logged. “Searches of Tiwari’s office, residence, and phone are expected to reveal more about the involvement of other officers. There is also information about Tiwari’s involvement in similar cash exchanges during his tenure in Nagpur and Gujarat,” said a DVAC official.

Source from: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/tamil-nadu-police-arrest-senior-ed-officer-for-accepting-bribe-of-rs-20-lakh-9050047/