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In a first-of-its-kind action, the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday said it has attached three chimpanzees and four marmosets (small tropical American monkeys) in a money laundering case valued at Rs 81 lakh.
The ED had registered a case on a complaint of West Bengal government’s Wild Life Department that one Supradip Guha of Kolkata was in illegal possession of prohibited wildlife.
The financial probe agency said the value of each of the chimpanzees is found to be in excess of Rs 25 lakh while the value of a marmoset is about Rs 1.5 lakh.
The ED in its statement said that the West Bengal Wild Life Department has filed a complaint in a local court against Guha. “The police had registered an FIR against Guha for forging documents pertaining to a permission letter allowing him to illegally transport the wild life birds,” it said.
The agency said that during investigation, it was revealed that Guha was running an organised wildlife smuggling racket. “He was a clever criminal and gave contradictory statements to the customs and wildlife authorities to evade action under customs as well as wildlife laws,” it alleged.
The agency alleged that Guha also obtained fake certificates regarding birth of the three Chimpanzees in India. “Based on the facts revealed during investigation, the above wildlife has been provisionally attached. The three chimpanzees and marmosets are now kept with the Alipore Zoological Garden in Kolkata,” the ED said.
According to the ED, Guha was attempting to take back the animals from the zoo authorities by claiming his right over them and by using false statements and documents.
The attachment has enabled the Zoo authorities to keep the wild life animals with them. The three chimpanzees are a major point of attraction for all the visitors in the Zoo and thus a source of revenue for the Zoo,” it added. (IANS)