ED raids and files money laundering case

On Friday, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) carried out several raids and filed a money laundering complaint in connection with the fake Covid tests during the recent Kumbh mela in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.

The agency said in a statement that searches had been carried out at the offices of Novus Path Labs, DNA Labs, Max Corporate Services, Dr Lal Chandani Labs Pvt Ltd and Nalwa Laboratories Pvt Ltd as well as the residential premises of their directors in Dehradun, Haridwar, Delhi, Noida and Hisar.

The ED said it seized “incriminated documents, false invoices, laptops, cellphones and property documents and 30.9 lakhs in cash” during the ongoing raids.

The agency recently registered a criminal case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the accused companies and their executives after investigating the Uttarakhand Police FIRs against them.

This was followed by the raids.

These labs received the contract from the government of Uttarakhand to perform rapid antigen and RT-PCR tests for the coronavirus during the Kumbh Mela, the ED said.

These labs performed virtually no COVID-19 testing and made “false entries” for testing and issued “false invoices” in order to gain illegal financial gain, he said.

“An amount of Rs 3.4 crore has already been received by the government of Uttarakhand as partial payment,” the ED said.

The agency said its investigation found that “the modus operandi used by these labs was that they used a single mobile number or a fake mobile number, a single address, or the same sample referral form (SRF ) for several people to show the inflated number of coronavirus tests without actually doing the tests.

“The tests were allegedly carried out on behalf of people who have never visited the Kumbh mela in Haridwar,” he said.

Due to false negative tests performed by these labs, Haridwar’s positivity rate at that time was 0.18% versus 5.3%, the ED said.

One of the largest religious gatherings in the world, the Kumbh was held in the state from April 1 to April 30, and the area notified for the congregation covered various locations in Haridwar, Dehradun and Tehri districts.

(PTI inputs)

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