ED files charge sheet againt TN minister Senthil Balaji, court sends him to judicial custody till Aug 25

Chennai: The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday filed a charge sheet against Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation against him and his aides, official sources said.

Principal Sessions Judge S Alli, before whom the 47-year-old DMK politician was produced, remanded him in judicial custody till August 25. The minister, who was arrested by the ED on June 14, will continue to be lodged at the Puzhal central jail in Chennai. The central agency also filed an about 168-170 pages prosecution complaint, apart from annexures, arraigning Balaji as an accused, the sources said.

The court is yet to take cognisance of the complaint (charge sheet) filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.

The ED is understood to have brought on record various documents seized, purported cash receipts recovered and the statement of Balaji that was recorded by it over the last few days in the charge sheet.

It is expected to file a supplementary charge sheet as a number of other people including members of Balaji’s family have not deposed before the agency till now.

It had recently said in a statement that Balaji’s RV Ashok Balaji, his (Ashoks’) wife Nirmala and mother-in-law P Lakshmi were sent multiple summons to join the probe and record their statements but they are “yet to appear in person, demonstrating a lack of cooperation with the ongoing investigation”.

A 2.49-acre land located in Karur, valued at more than Rs 30 crore, belonging to Nirmala was frozen by the ED a few days back in this case.

Balaji continues to be a minister without portfolio in Chief Minister M K Stalin-led Tamil Nadu government after he was arrested by the ED on June 14 in the money laundering case linked to an alleged cash-for-jobs scam when he was the transport minister during the previous AIADMK regime.

The agency had earlier claimed that Balaji “misused” his office for illegal gratification and “engineered” a job racket scam in the state transport undertakings during 2014-15 with purported kickbacks paid by candidates through his associates who include his brother R V Ashok Kumar and his personal assistants B Shanmugam and M Karthikeyan.
“This led to jobs being awarded at the expense of deserving candidates”, the ED had alleged.

The ED filed a case of money laundering in September 2021 to probe these allegations and its complaint is based on three Tamil Nadu Police FIRs filed during 2018 and later by some of those who failed to get the promised jobs.