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Koda slapped with slush funds charges

Ranchi, Sept. 25: Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, along with five of his associates, were charged by a special court (PMLA) for laundering tainted money estimated at a staggering Rs 3,549.72 crore during September 2006 and August 2008.

But all of them — Koda aide Binod Sinha, his brother Vikas, hawala operators Manoj Babulal Punamiya and Arvind Vyas, MD of Indo Asahi Glass Factory, Ramgarh, Vijay Joshi and Koda — who were present in the court of Ranchi special judge Nitya Nand Singh today, denied the charges.

Senior public prosecutor S.R. Das said the former chief minister was charged with laundering Rs 1,340 crore and hawala operator Vyas with Rs 1,020 crore.

“Binod Sinha, Koda’s close aide, has been charged with laundering Rs 915.07 crore while his brother, Vikas, has been accused of laundering Rs 45 crore. Vijay Joshi has apparently laundered Rs 169.63 crore and Manoj Babulal Punamiya Rs.58.69 crore,” Das said.

Moreover, Kamlesh Singh, part of successive governments led by Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren, was also charged by Enforcement Directorate (ED) of laundering Rs 4.43 crore during the period he was a minister.

The senior public prosecutor explained that since Kamlesh Singh was an NCP MLA, who also became a minister, he was being charged separately for misusing his office to launder Rs 4.43 crore.

The framing of charges now paves the way for trial. Regular hearings on the money laundering cases would begin from October 19 on a day-to-day bases.

Then an Independent MLA Koda had scripted a record of sorts in September 2006 by becoming the chief minister of Jharkhand with support from Congress, RJD, JMM and other Independents. He continued in office till August 27, 2008, when he was shunted out by JMM chief Shibu Soren.

The former chief minister has been lodged in Ranchi Central Jail since his arrest from Chaibasa on November 30, 2009. Binod Sinha has been there since September 18, 2010 while his younger brother, Vikas Sinha, a co-accused in the money laundering scam, is also lodged in the same jail after his arrest from Ranchi.

Hawala operators Punamiya and Vyas are behind bars in Ranchi since August 12, 2010.

Another key figure in the money laundering scam, Vijay Joshi, was arrested by ED from Calcutta on February 18, 2011. The CBI, which raided Joshi’s Kanke Road flat, Panchwati Apartments in Ranchi, on September 4, is probing his links in the Coalgate scam.

On March 4, 2011, ED charged Koda with siphoning off Rs 181 crore out of the state with the help of his aides and hawala operators. The chargesheet had made it clear that the figure excluded the former chief minister’s investments in companies and other fixed assets in foreign shores, including Liberia, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Indonesia and Thailand.