The ED has attached over 500 properties, with a market value of about Rs 200 crore, in connection with its money laundering probe in the alleged illegal granite quarrying scam of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
"During the investigations, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) identified about 517 immovable properties valued at Rs 98 crore (as per the book value).
"The present market value of these properties would be about Rs 200 crore. As these immovable properties are involved in money laundering, ED attached them provisionally under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)," the central probe agency said in a statement.
The case pertains to 2013 when the Madurai Police registered five criminal complaints against quarrying firms identified as Ms Madurai Granite Exports, Ms M R Granites, Ms R R Granites and their proprietors and partners.
After completion of the police investigation, the ED said, charge sheets were filed by the state police alleging illegal quarrying of multi-coloured granites at Melur, Keelavalavu, Rasipuram and other places in and around Madurai district by the accused, with a common object to trespass into the nearby areas of government's Poramboke land, by allegedly removing boundary stones erected by the revenue department.
"It was also alleged that deadly explosive substances were used for carrying out illegal mining works which is an offence under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908. "It was further alleged that they (accused) have misappropriated the multi-coloured granite blocks in an illegal manner during the period between 2001 and 2012," the agency said.
The ED said it is estimated that the loss to the government exchequer and the consequent illegal gain to the accused in this case is about Rs 450 crore. An attachment of assets, under PMLA, is aimed to deprive the accused from obtaining illegal benefits from the proceeds of crime and such an order can be challenged before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act.