ED has arrested Villayutham, (a habitual smuggler of Sea cucumbers) under PMLA, 2002. Villayutham was produced before the Hon’ble Special Court for PMLA, Madurai and the Hon’ble Court has granted ED custody for 8 days.
Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has arrested Villayutham, a smuggler based
out of Rameswaram, who is consistently indulged in smuggling of Sea cucumbers,
a marine species protected under schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 under
the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Villayutham was produced
before the Hon’ble Special Court for PMLA, Madurai and the Hon’ble Court has
granted ED custody for 8 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.
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 has revealed that Villayutham had,
over the years, been using the business entities floated by him viz. M/s. VVN Sea
Foods, M/s. VV Agency, M/s Hotel Raamajayam, M/s. VV Sea Shell Mart, M/s VVI
Dry Fish Process and M/s Hotel Raamajayam Restaurant 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
proceeds of crime was utilized 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 is under progress.