New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted multiple searches at the offices and residences of the top executives of five diagnostics firms for alleged money laundering in connection with a fake COVID-19 testing scam during the recently-held Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar. In a statement, the probe agency informed that searches were conducted at the offices of Novus Path Labs, DNA Labs, Max Corporate Services, Dr. Lal Chandani Labs Pvt Ltd, and Nalwa Laboratories Pvt Ltd, and also at the residential premises of their directors in Dehradun, Haridwar, Delhi, Noida, and Hisar.Also Read - International Travel Should Be Made Easier Through Recognition Of Vaccine Certificates: PM Modi

Notably, the Uttarakhand Police has filed a case, after which the ED started an investigation. The probe agency said that these labs were given the contract by the Uttarakhand government for conducting rapid antigen and RT-PCR tests for coronavirus during the Kumbh Mela. However, these labs hardly carried out any COVID-19 test and made ‘fake entries’ for the testing and raised ‘bogus’ bills in order to earn illegal financial gains. Also Read - Kerala School Reopening: CM Vijayan Makes Big Statement, Says Classes Will Resume From ….

The Enforcement Directorate also explained how these diagnostics firms allegedly ran the fraud. The agency said its investigation found that the “modus operandi used by these labs was that they used the single mobile number or a false mobile number, single address or same specimen referral form (SRF) for multiple persons for showing the inflated numbers of coronavirus testing without actually doing the testing.” Also Read - Delta Globally Dominant Covid Strain, Now Spread To 185 Countries: WHO

Furthermore, it claimed that testing was claimed to be done in the name of the persons who never visited the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and due to false-negative testing by these labs, the positivity rate of Haridwar at that time was shown at 0.18 per cent against the actual 5.3 per cent.  The ED said it has seized ‘incriminating documents, bogus bills, laptops, mobile phones and property documents, and Rs 30.9 lakh cash’ during the raids that were ongoing.

One of the world’s largest religious gatherings, the Kumbh was held in the state from April 1 to 30, and the notified area for the congregation covered various places in Haridwar, Dehradun, and Tehri districts.

(With agency inputs)