Britain’s Opposition Labour Party is calling for a freeze on the money donated by an Indian rice tycoon to the governing Conservative Party while he is under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in India on fraud and money laundering allegations.
Karan Chanana, head of the global rice brand Amira, is being investigated by ED over claims that bank loans were unlawfully diverted into shell entities and is yet to respond to the allegations. He is believed to have donated around GBP 220,000 to the Conservatives through his British company Amira G. Foods since September 2019.
Margaret Hodge, a senior Labour MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax, told the ‘Guardian’ newspaper on Saturday that the Tories should establish the source of these funds and freeze the money until the inquiries are completed.
“The Tories have been too dependent on major donors and have not been doing proper checks. They should now be forced to do so by new legislation,” she told the newspaper.
It comes after reports from Delhi revealed that the ED conducted search operations on May 2 at 21 locations in India connected to Chanana, the Indian company Amira Pure Foods and other parties under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Charges are yet to be filed in the case as the ED says further inquiries are continuing.
“Investigations revealed that the accused entities in connivance with each other as well as other related/unrelated entities have illegally diverted loan funds sanctioned by the consortium of banks by way of transferring loan funds into the accounts of various shell entities under the guise of genuine business transactions,” the newspaper quoted an ED statement as saying.
“It was also known that Karan A Chanana had donated to a political party of [the] United Kingdom since 2019…while the accused entity had itself defaulted on repayment loans,” the statement adds.
Amira Nature Foods was listed on the New York stock exchange in October 2012, specialising in Indian basmati rice grown in the foothills of the Himalayas. Chanana, its chairman and chief executive, operated the business from its headquarters in the Gold Tower in Dubai, while its official company registration was in the British Virgin Islands.
Its subsidiaries included Amira Pure Foods in India, now under investigation, and Amira G. Foods in the UK, according to corporate filings.
The probe in India follows a consortium of banks headed by Canara Bank filing a report with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in November 2020 alleging bank fraud.
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