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Former Jharkhand CM booked for money laundering

Source: PTI
October 09, 2009 18:36 IST
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A case was registered against former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and three of his cabinet colleagues by the Enforcement Directorate on Friday for alleged money laundering, diversion of state funds and making huge investments abroad without legal sanction.

The ED filed a Enforcement Case Information Report (equivalent to a FIR) before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Ranchi against Koda, Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Bhandu Tirkey besides five others.

The ministers including Koda, who was the chief minister of Jharkhand between February 2005 and August 2008, have been accused of amassing properties worth hundreds of crores in UAE, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Liberia.

Quoting from the ECIR, sources said Koda, who was the first independent candidate to become a chief minister, has been accused of purchasing mines in Liberia worth Rs 8.5 crore.

Most of the assets by Koda, ironically the first chief minister to be booked under PMLA, was purchased in the name of a close confidant Binod Sinha, once a tractor mechanic. As per the ECIR, the properties in the name of Sinha runs into several hundred crores of rupees.

As per the declaration given by the three ministers individually, nobody had bank deposits more than Rs 1.9 lakh or immovable property worth over Rs 1.15 lakh. Sources said the agency is looking into details of the real wealth of the accused ministers and it will also attach all the properties identified. They said under the PMLA, the onus of proof is on the accused rather than the agency.

Two other cabinet colleagues of Koda have already been booked by the ED for alleged money laundering, foreign exchange violations and forgery. The Directorate had swung into action after the Jharkhand Vigilance Department lodged a complaint and recently searched the residences of Koda, Hari Narayan Rai and Enos Ekka, both ministers in the Koda government.

ED officials claimed they had come across documents suggesting the former ministers had amassed huge wealth including mines, real estate firms and properties in Hong Kong, Thailand and some other countries. A case was lodged against the two former ministers by the vigilance department, on the directive of a vigilance court, under various IPC sections last year.

Efforts to get in touch with Koda did not fructify as his mobile phone was switched off and no one answered the calls at his residence. The vigilance court had then directed the department to file the charges when it heard a petition by Vinod Kumar, a resident of Jharkhand's Deoghar district. Both Rai and Ekka were arrested following the court's directive recently, after which the ED swung into action.

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