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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Diversion of MGNREGA funds: Most of seized Rs 19-crore cash belong to IAS officer, CA tells ED

The ED’s action comes at a time when Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is under the scanner for allegedly allotting a mine on lease to himself, and an industrial plot to his wife.

Written by Abhishek Angad | Ranchi |
Updated: May 13, 2022 2:01:09 am
Enforcement Directorate (ED), Suman Singh, Jharkhand Government, MGNREGA, MGNREGA funds, Hemant Soren, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsJharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal arrives at ED office. (Twitter/ANI)

In his statement to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), chartered accountant Suman Singh, who is under arrest, has said that “most of the over Rs 19-crore cash recovered from his house during raids May 6 belonged to Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer Pooja Singhal”. In its remand application filed before a special court in Ranchi on Wednesday evening, the ED said that an accused and a witness (without names) in their statements said that “during her tenure as Khunti DC, Singhal received bags full of cash on at least four occasions”.

Jharkhand government suspended Singhal, who was the Mining Secretary, after her arrest.

The probe is linked to 16 FIRs registered in 2010-2011 in Khunti district against Junior Engineer Ram Binod Prasad Sinha for embezzlement of public money of over Rs 18 crores between 2008-2011. Singhal was posted as Khunti DC in 2009-2010. The ED arrested Singhal on Wednesday evening in a case of money laundering involving the alleged diversion of MGNREGA funds and took her on remand for five days on Thursday, while Suman’s remand was extended by five days.

The ED’s action comes at a time when Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is under the scanner for allegedly allotting a mine on lease to himself, and an industrial plot to his wife. The Election Commission had issued a notice to Soren, seeking his response, while his brother and Dumka MLA Basant Soren was also put on notice by the EC on the mining lease issue.

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BJP’s Raghubar Das held a third press conference attacking CM Hemant Soren, claiming that CM’s wife was originally a native of Odisha and she bought two pieces of land in Ranchi in violation of CNT Act.

The ED in its remand application filed through Special Public Prosecutor BMP Singh said: “…Further he (the CA) disclosed that on instruction of Singhal, he gave Rs 3 crores in cash to a builder for purchasing the land for Pulse Hospital, owned by her. Independent valuation of the land and building of hospital (including one diagnostic centre owned by Singhal) is more than Rs 40 crores, along with plant and machinery worth more than Rs 30 crores… investigation revealed that the tainted funds were laundered through the said hospital.”

“On perusal of statements of various witnesses and Suman Kumar, it is established that a huge amount of proceeds of crime is integrated in construction of and management of Pulse Hospital and various high value cash transactions were made by Suman Kumar on behalf of the accused person,” the ED said.

The ED said that several other accused stated that despite several written and verbal requests, JE Ram Binod Prasad Sinha never used to submit related measurement books, vouchers, muster rolls vis-a-vis the MGNREGA funds allotted.

The Indian Express had earlier reported that Sinha in his statement had told the ED that 5% commission of the advance paid by the department was given to the district administration, although he did not pay the amount directly to Singhal.

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