The ED on Thursday conducted raids at multiple premises, including that of Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal, in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to alleged embezzlement of over Rs 18 crore MGNREGA funds in Khunti district of the state during 2008-11, officials said.
The searches are being carried out under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at about 18 premises in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and a few other states they said.
Officials said the premises of the IAS officer and secretary of the department of mines and geology of Jharkhand government Singhal in state capital Ranchi are also being covered as part of the action.
Singhal is a 2000 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and was posted as the deputy commissioner in the Khunti district earlier.
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Some other locations in Ranchi including a hospital were also being raided by ED officials who were provided a security escort by the personnel of the central paramilitary force CRPF.
The raids pertain to a money laundering case where a former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha, was arrested on June 17, 2020, from the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after it booked him under the PMLA. The federal agency took cognizance of 16 FIRs and charge sheets filed by the Jharkhand vigilance bureau against Sinha that alleged the accused abused his official position and indulged in embezzlement of Rs 18.06 crore worth government funds by way of forgery and misappropriation of funds.
Sinha was booked by the vigilance bureau under criminal sections of the IPC for cheating and corruption for allegedly defrauding public money and investing the same in his name as well as in the name of his family members while working as a junior engineer from April 1, 2008, to March 21, 2011. The said money was earmarked for the execution of government projects under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme in the Khunti district, the agency had earlier said.
The ED also filed a charge sheet against Sinha in December 2018 and a special court in Ranchi subsequently issued summons to him for an appearance before it which he did not honor, the agency had said earlier.
The court then issued a non-bailable warrant against Sinha based on which a manhunt was launched against him by the ED and he was arrested from his hideout in West Bengal.
A supplementary charge sheet was later filed against him by the agency in August 2020 after his questioning.
”Accused Ram Binod Prasad Sinha used to regularly transfer government project funds to his accounts as well as in the account of his family members and thus generated illegitimate income out of his criminal misconduct while working as a public servant.” ”It was found that movable and immovable properties have been acquired by the accused (Sinha) in his name as well as in the name of his family members,” the ED had then said.
His assets worth Rs 4.28 crore were also attached by the ED.