This is the first time Tamil Nadu has arrested an Enforcement Directorate officer.
An Enforcement Directorate officer arrested in Tamil Nadu was allegedly involved in an extortion racket, a complaint by the police has revealed. This is the first time Tamil Nadu has arrested an Enforcement Directorate officer. The FIR filed by Tamil Nadu police extensively details the role Ankit Tiwari, the arrested officer, played in the extortion racket.
Tiwari used to text and message state government employees on WhatsApp using a fake name - Hardik. He would demand bribes on these calls, according to the complainant Dr Suresh Babu who ended up paying him Rs 40 lakh.
The illegal transactions would often take on the highway during a journey, the complaint says. He met Dr Santosh when he was on his way to Madurai, and the negotiations took place during the journey. He received the first installment of Rs 20 lakh bribe in cash in November and asked the money to be put in his boot which the government doctor says was recorded by his dash cam. The second installment was paid to him on a highway the same way and the Tamil Nadu Vigilance and Anti-Corruption authorities who had laid a trap chased Tiwari's car to recover the alleged bribe money.
According to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Mr Tiwari originally demanded Rs 3 crore to "avert legal action" in a case that had already been settled. He contacted the doctor on October 29, claimed he was acting on instructions from the Prime Minister's Office, and summoned him to the agency's Madurai office. When he came, Mr Tiwari accosted him and demanded the Rs 3 crore bribe, which he later brought down to Rs 51 lakh claiming he had "spoken to his superiors".
Neither Ankit Tiwari nor his lawyers have made any remarks yet.
The state police are already at loggerheads with the Enforcement Directorate over the latter's summons to five district collectors; this is in connection with a probe into alleged money laundering linked to illegal sand mining.
The cops are now investigating whether Ankit Tiwari had intimidated and received large sums of money from others and whether there was a nexus with other officials in Madurai and Chennai.
Coming close to the heels of the arrest of another ED officer in Rajasthan, this has given ammunition to the opposition that alleges the Centre is deploying the probe agency to take on opposition-ruled states.
Tamil Nadu Dairy Minister Mano Thangaraj called the BJP "Bribery Janata Party" and said there is corruption in the highest investigation agency under the Union home ministry. "Even the CAG had flagged corruption to the tune of 7 lakh crore," he said.
State BJP president K Annamalai said, "This will not be the end. But we can't paint the whole ED. The police should deal with this professionally. Politicians should approach this in a mature way."