The Enforcement Directorate (ED) have arrested Villayutham, a habitual smuggler of sea cucumbers, based out of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), an official said on Friday.
The official said that Villayutham was produced before a Special Court in Madurai which remanded him to ED’s custody for eight days. “It is pertinent to note that sea cucumbers are crucial to the marine ecosystem as they consume decomposing organic matter and convert it into recyclable nutrients for other marine life,” the official added.
The ED had initiated money laundering investigation on the basis of multiple FIRs registered by Tamil Nadu Police and Wildlife Authorities under various sections of Wildlife Protection Act. The PMLA investigation revealed that Villayutham had, over the years, been using various business entities floated by him as a front for projecting the proceeds obtained from the illegal smuggling activities as legal business income.
“He had deposited the proceeds of smuggling activities in the form of cash, amounting to multiple Crore, in the bank accounts maintained in the names of himself, his wife, his children and various business entities operated by them,” the official said.
The ED said that proceeds of crime was utilised by Villayutham to repay loans amounting to multiple crore taken for various purposes including the loans availed in the names of his business entities, to purchase multiple movable and immovable properties including a hotel, to pay exorbitant fees for his childrens’ medical college education and to run his business entities.
Further investigation in the matter is on.