In the early years, the ED was focused on fighting organized crime, public corruption, and other forms of economic espionage. Today, the agency has broadened its focus to include investigation of money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. Its staff consists of over 500 lawyers and agents. It has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami, and other cities across the United States.
Recent allegations of politically-motivated cases have come to light in the ED’s work. In the Dalit memorials scam, the ED raided seven locations in UP during the tenure of Mayawati. It also targeted former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, former BJP leader Motilal Vora, and the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. Despite this record, some critics argue that the ED is lenient in its prosecution of BJP leaders.
In many cases, ill-gotten money is used to purchase property. This money may have been given to someone else and then used to buy another property. The ED will investigate the layering of money and the attachment of the properties to the suspect. The ED also may investigate other people with connections to the thief. Oftentimes, these crimes cannot be solved by the criminal, but it’s still possible for the ED to pursue a case if it’s proven.
ED officers are the people who work for the federal government and local police departments. The police forward the details of any crimes that involve over Rs1 crore to the ED. If the police filed a FIR directly, the ED may request a chargesheet. Once the chargesheet has been issued, the ED can check whether there’s money laundering. In some cases, ED agents are not able to trace the source of the crime, so they end up dismissing the case.
The ED can book individuals under 29 laws and 160 sections. These laws govern the confiscation of ill-gotten wealth, which is money accumulated from crime. This money can be used to buy assets or invest overseas. The ED has the authority to seize assets of individuals or companies that were obtained through illegal activities. It has the authority to search property, seize money, and seize documents. The enforcement of these laws has only been possible since the passage of the PMLA in 2005.
ED officers are granted extraordinary powers to investigate cases of money laundering and other crimes. Using these powers, they have seized the assets of dozens of companies involved in export and import of counterfeited currency. Although Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act states that confessions made to police officers cannot be used in court as evidence, the ED ignored this rule and made statements before magistrates. Further, all crimes committed under PMLA are non-bailable, which makes the ED’s powers even more extensive.
Besides investigating alleged illegal arms trade, the ED has also convicted nine individuals. The ED has also been criticized for conducting witch hunts against opposition leaders. In the last few months, a number of opposition leaders have been accused of corruption, and many of them have faced investigations by the agency. In Haryana, the ED filed charge sheets against former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as well as Congress leader Motilal Vora.