An Enforcement Directorate officer was arrested for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 20 lakh from a a government employee, the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), said on Friday.
After he was taken into custody in Dindigul, a team of the DVAC officials held 'enquiries' at the sub-zone ED office in Madurai, with state policemen standing guard outside the central government office.
An official release from DVAC identified the arrested official as Ankit Tiwari, "serving as an Enforcement Officer in the Madurai Enforcement Department office of the Union Government."
In October, he contacted a government employee from Dindigul and mentioned about a vigilance case registered against him in that district which was "already disposed off."
Tiwari "informed the employee that instructions had been received from the Prime Minister's Office to conduct an enquiry" and asked the government employee to appear before the ED office at Madurai on October 30, it said.
When the man went to Madurai, Tiwari asked him to pay Rs 3 crore to avoid legal action in the case, DVAC alleged.
"Later, he said that he had spoken to his superiors and as per their directions, he agreed to collect Rs 51 lakh as bribe. On November 1, the said employee had given him Rs 20 lakh as first instalment of bribe. Later, he (Tiwari) intimidated the employee on several occasions through WhatsApp calls and text messages that he should pay the full amount of Rs 51 lakh, otherwise he would face dire consequences," the release said.
The government employee grew suspicious and lodged a complaint at the Dindigul district Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Unit on Thursday.
On Friday, the sleuths of DVAC caught Ankit Tiwari after he received Rs 20 lakh as bribe from the complainant.
"Subsequently, he was arrested at 10.30 am under Prevention of Corruption Act. It is pertinent to mention that the sleuths have seized several incriminating documents regarding his misconduct. Investigation is being done to elucidate whether he had blackmailed/ threatened any other officials adopting this modus operandi" and collected money in the name of Enforcement Directorate, the anti-graft agency of the Tamil Nadu government said.
Enquiry will also be conducted to ascertain the possible involvement of other ED officials, it said, adding Vigilance authorities were conducting searches at the residence of Tiwari and his Enforcement Directorate office at Madurai.
"Further searches will be conducted at the places associated with Ankit Tiwari," the release said.
Earlier, after the arrival of DVAC sleuths at the office of the central agency in Madurai, Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel were deployed by authorities inside the ED office as a 'security' measure.
The presence of the state police and the Central police force (ITBP, under the Central Armed Police Forces) at the same time led to a flutter for a while in the Madurai neighbourhood.
Dindigul, about 430 km from Chennai is near Madurai and about 100 km from Tiruchirappalli in central Tamil Nadu.
The arrest of the ED officer comes as the mouthpiece of the state's ruling party DMK, 'Murasoli' on Friday in a hard-hitting editorial accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using the Enforcement Directorate to tarnish the Tamil Nadu government's reputation.
The Congress sought to put the blame on the ED stating that the official arrested on bribery charge should not have run if he was innocent.
"Based on the information and complaint received by the Tamil Nadu police they went to check to the enforcement department office. If he was innocent, he could have faced them and why did he run away at the time...," Tamil Nadu Congress President KS Alagiri said.
The BJP, however stated that it was unfair to implicate the entire department for the misconduct of one individual.
Addressing media persons in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu State BJP chief K Annamalai said, "Yesterday, DVAC arrested one person from the ED department. He was produced before the court and sent for judiciary custody. This is not the first time and this isn't the last time either. Earlier too, many have been caught and arrested from specialized agencies like CBI and ED in states like Rajasthan, West Bengal and Delhi. Recently, a similar incident happened in Rajasthan...We can't blame the ED for a single individual's mistake."
With inputs from ANI