The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday said it has issued an order for provisional attachment of three chimpanzees and four marmosets as part of its money laundering inquiry against an alleged wildlife smuggler in West Bengal, PTI reported.

The investigation agency said this is a “first-of-its-kind attachment” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. In a statement, it said the value of the three chimpanzees was Rs 25 lakh each, while the marmosets, a species of small long-tailed South American monkeys, cost Rs 1.5 lakh each. The total value of all the seven primates is Rs 81 lakh.

The probe in the case started after the Wildlife Department of West Bengal and the state police filed a first information report against Supradip Guha for “illegal possession” of wild animals.

The agency said Guha ran an organised wildlife smuggling racket, and had forged an authorisation letter to illegally transport wildlife birds. Following this, the local police booked him under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Guha also allegedly arranged for fake birth certificates of the three chimpanzees in India.

The ED alleged that Guha was “a clever criminal and recorded contradictory statements before the customs authorities and wildlife authorities to evade action from both the departments”.

It said the attachment order will allow the zoo authorities to legally keep the chimpanzees and the marmosets and take care of them. The chimpanzees are a major attraction and a source of revenue to the Alipore Zoological Garden in Kolkata, the agency added.

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