Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cash flow in Nagaland: EC writes to BCAS, FIU

New Delhi: Worried over the recent spate of huge cash seizures in poll-bound Nagaland, Election Commission today asked Bureau of Civil Aviation and FIU to conduct detailed inquiries and report to it immediately.

The state goes to polls on February 23 and two big cash seizures-- one involving state home minister where more than Rs one crore was seized and the other where a Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) candidate was held for carrying Rs one crore in a helicopter recently-- have prompted the EC to shoot off letters to both the central departments.

The EC, according to sources, is particularly wary of instances of cash being secretly flown in helicopters, reportedly without the permission of the District Election Officer (DEO) and the Air Traffic Control.

The EC, in its letter issued to the BCAS today, has asked the department to conduct an inquiry in this regard. Instances have been reported where pilots of privately hired choppers carry political candidates and they do not land but keep the helicopters six inches above the ground thereby stating that they are not landing and only flying sorties.

Local poll officials have complained to the EC in this regard as the helicopter operators allegedly are not informing them about the scheduled sorties.

These choppers and such activities are suspected to be in aid of ferrying illegal cash and the BCAS needs to intervene and report the facts to the EC, the Commission said in its letter.

These choppers are also ferrying political candidates to far-flung villages in the remote state in order to evade the EC surveillance teams.

In order to curb these, the EC asked the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under the Finance Ministry to investigate and submit a suspicious transaction report on the operations of all banks of the state.

The EC suspects that banks are allowing huge cash withdrawals, above Rs 1 lakh, which is being illegally pumped to be used at the hustings.

The EC, sources said, has taken cognisance of media reports that more than Rs 300 crore has been withdrawn from some banks in the last one week in the state.The FIU has been asked to submit a report on the transactions of all the banks-- both public and private-- during the last one month.

Another Rs 20 lakh has been seized by the authorities since yesterday in the state, they said.

Nagaland has a 60-member Assembly.



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