New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday arrested Congress leader and its Karnataka troubleshooter DK Shivakumar in connection with a case of money laundering after repeated questioning over the past few days.
The former cabinet minister and Kanakapura MLA appeared before the central probe agency for questioning for the fourth time on Tuesday at its headquarters in Khan Market here.
After a long session of interrogation, Shivakumar was placed under arrest as per provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), said officials. The agency wants the Congress leader to be put through custodial interrogation and hence arrested him, they added.
Shivakumar will be produced before a court here on Wednesday where the ED will seek his custody, the officials said.
Soon after his arrest, tweets put out from Shivakumar's official handle described the cases against him as "politically motivated".
I appeal to my party cadre, supporters and well-wishers to not be disheartened as I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in God & in our country's Judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics.— DK Shivakumar (@DKShivakumar) September 3, 2019
"I appeal to my party cadre, supporters and well-wishers to not be disheartened as I have done nothing illegal. I have full faith in god and in our country's judiciary and am very confident that I will emerge victorious both legally and politically against this vendetta politics," said another tweet.
Shivakumar's supporters, who had gathered outside the ED office, raised slogans and tried to prevent probe officials from taking him for a procedural medical check-up after his arrest.
Condemning the move, the Congress described the arrest as "high-handed tactics and vendetta politics" being deployed against its leaders.
"The arrest of Shri DK Shivakumar is yet another attempt by the government to distract the public from their failed policies and the sorry state of the economy,” the party said in a tweet.
The Karnataka Congressman had denied any wrongdoing and had said that for playing an "instrumental role" in ensuring the safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017, amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them, I-T searches were conducted and the ED subsequently took action against him.
When Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel fought the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat in 2017, Shivakumar had hosted 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs at the resort to keep the flock together.
During the recent political crisis in Karnataka also, Shivakumar had attempted to woo away the dissidents and bring them back into the Congress fold. But the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government fell and BS Yediyurappa was sworn in as the new chief minister, leading a BJP government.
However, Karnataka BJP spokesperson S Prakash said Rs 8 crore had been seized from Shivakumar's flat in Delhi. "It is a clear case of corruption...it is not politically motivated and it is a baseless allegation against us," he said.
While making his first appearance before the ED in New Delhi on August 30, Shivakumar had said he would cooperate with the probe agency in the probe.
"It is my duty (to appear).... I have to respect the law. We are lawmakers and law abiding citizens. They (ED) have summoned me.... I don't know why they have called me under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)," he had told reporters outside the ED office. "But let me see and hear them. I am ready to face them (ED)."
Shivakumar had to appear before the agency after the Karnataka High Court on Thursday dismissed his petition challenging the summons issued to him by the ED.
Shivakumar had denied any wrongdoing and had said that his being "instrumental" in ensuring safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017, amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them, was the reason for the I-T searches and subsequent ED action against him.
The central agency had in September last year registered a money laundering case against Shivakumar, Haumanthaiah, an employee at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, and others.
The ED case has been filed based on a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department against him last year before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his associate SK Sharma of transporting huge amount of unaccounted cash on a regular basis through 'hawala' channels with the help of three other accused.
(With inputs from PTI)