ED attaches Church Association’s assets of 60cr in B’luru

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached assets worth nearly Rs 60 crore of the Church of South India Trust Association (CSITA) in Bengaluru for alleged illegal transfer of land leased to it by the Defence Ministry.

In a statement, the ED said the attached assets are in the form of fixed deposits maintained and available with the State Bank of India and the action has been initiated under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA).

According to the ED, the investigation was initiated based on an FIR registered at Ashoknagar Police Station, Bengaluru, against the CSITA for allegedly “dishonestly” entering into an arrangement for transfer of the title of a piece of land measuring 7426.886 square metres belonging to the Ministry of Defence.

The land was earlier leased to the All Saints Church in Bengaluru.

Part of the precinct where the All Saints Church, Bengaluru, is situated, has been allegedly transferred to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), a Karnataka government undertaking, by the CSITA to receive a compensation of Rs 59.29 crore in 2019.

The BMRCL had acquired the said land through the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB).

The ED said during investigation it was found that the title of the land belonged to the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, and it was only leased out to the All Saints Church for conducting religious affairs and no proprietary right of the land was ever transferred to the Church.

The CSITA allegedly illegally transferred the land belonging to the Ministry of Defence to BMRCL, the ED said.

The compensation for the land is required to be paid into the Consolidated Fund of India as the rightful owner of the land is the Ministry of Defence, the agency said.

The CSITA is not the rightful owner of the land “illegally barged” into the land of Defence authorities and has allegedly transferred the property and obtained the proceeds amounting to Rs 59.29 crore from BMRCL, the ED said.

Accordingly, identified assets to the tune of Rs 59.52 crore, including accrued interest on the amount received, have been provisionally attached under PMLA, the ED said, adding that further investigation is in progress.