Thiruvananthapuram: The Left Democratic Front in Kerala has been vigorously challenging the actions of central investigative agencies in the state and accusing the central government for letting loose them with political motives. After targeting the Central Bureau of Investigation by withdrawing the general consent accorded to it, the CPM-led government has now zeroed in on the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan even charged ED officials of being disrespectful to women employees of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) while holding investigations at its offices.
"The investigation officers are misbehaving, threatening and intimidating officials to extract the statement that their political masters desire to get. The ED officials are threatening staff even with physical assault so as to coerce them into making the statement," the CM claimed.
"They are not supposed to resort to such actions for satisfying the BJP and the state Congress leadership," Pinarayi said.
"The KIIFB had issued Masala Bond with the permission of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and by complying with the rules. Even though Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke against the KIIFB during her recent visit to Kochi people did not take her criticism at face value. That is why they are now using the ED. The investigating officials are showing undue haste in acting according to the whims and fancies of the minister," Pinarayi added.
The LDF government suspects political witch-hunt in an election season as the ED investigates the legality of Masala Bonds issued by the KIIFB. Earlier, the ED had summoned two top KIIFB officials to appear before it in connection with its probe into the overseas borrowings carried out by the state-owned agency. The ED is probing whether the KIIFB violated provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act by issuing the Masala Bonds.
As the ED is under the Union Ministry of Finance, the Kerala government alleges a political angle to the probe being ordered into the overseas borrowings undertaken by the KIIFB.
Earlier the Comptroller and Auditor General had severely criticised the KIIFB's external borrowings through Masala Bonds, saying these were not in accordance with the constitutional provisions and lacked legislative approval.