Money trail in India's kidney ring leads to Hong Kong, Australia

Other News Materials 26 October 2008 13:46 (UTC +04:00)

Indian investigative agencies have found the money trail in a multimillion-dollar kidney transplant racket leading to Hong Kong and Australia, and will ask authorities in those to help in the probe, news reports said Sunday.

The alleged kingpin of the racket, Amit Kumar, and his associates are accused of performing more than 500 kidney transplant surgeries over a decade by procuring organs for paltry sums of money from poor people and transplanting them on wealthy recipients, dpa reported.

The Enforcement Directorate, the agency probing the ring, has received the permission of a Delhi court to follow the trail of part of the 100 million dollars Kumar is suspected of amassing, to offshore properties and banks in Hong Kong and Australia, PTI news agency reported.

"This is a fit case where letter of rogatory is required to be issued ... to the competent authorities in Hong Kong and Australia to identify the ill-gotten money earned through unlawful means and for collection of evidence," judge AK Pathak said in a ruling Saturday.

A letter of rogatory is a formal request from a court of a country seeking assistance from authorities in other countries for collection of evidence in a criminal case.

Enforcement Directorate officials said they needed to question people in Hong Kong and Australia and collect documents as the money trail indicated Kumar had acquired assets in these two countries and had opened banks accounts in his name.

Kumar is currently in jail along with at least eight others connected with the case. He was arrested on February 7 at a forest resort in Nepal, where he had escaped to after the racket was exposed in January following complaints by impoverished labourers who said doctors in Gurgaon, a New Delhi suburb, had removed their kidneys.

Kumar has been charged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code relating to wrongful confinement, causing hurt by dangerous weapons, cheating and criminal conspiracy.

Police suspect the transplant racket served international clients from Britain, the United States, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Dubai. The clients flew into India as tourists and underwent the transplants at clinics in New Delhi and its suburbs.