Patna, Sept. 6: Over Rs 1,000 crore meant for strengthening dairy and poultry in undivided Bihar was siphoned off to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore in the fodder scam that surfaced in 1995.
Probe agencies CBI, Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department had then traced below Rs 100 crore, leaving unanswered questions on where a major share of the scam money vanished.
But, fresh investigation by the income tax (I-T) department shows the scam money did not remain in just Patna and Ranchi. It made its way to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore. The I-T department has traced over 30 properties belonging to five people involved in the scam.
“A huge bungalow in New Delhi’s posh Hauz Khas locality belongs to a scam accused and Noida appears to be a favourite destination for fodder scam accused,” remarked an I-T source.
“A huge share of the ill-gotten fodder scam money appears to have been squandered away in extravagant life styles — buying expensive SUVs, flying, staying in expensive hotels — or given away generously to politicians and officials.
“A portion was also invested in real estate, plots. With time, the value appreciation has been huge. Investments were also made in gold and the share market,” the source indicated.
The I-T department has already put up notices attaching some prime properties in Patna. A signboard near the upmarket Pushpanjali Apartment on Boring Road declares that Flat No. 102 belongs to Tripurari Mohan Prasad of the animal husbandry department (AHD) and has been attached because Prasad owes the department Rs 15.76 crore.
The notice warns persons against buying or transferring the flat. The department has attached another property near Saguna Mor, also belonging to Prasad, who was a supplier in the AHD.
The department has attached the second floor of a commercial complex, Abhishekh Plaza, on Exhibition Road that belongs to former AHD official Seshmunni Ram, who owes the department Rs 7.57 crore.
There are more properties belonging to the scam accused but these are benaami (in fake names) and the I-T department has to prove the person in whose name it exists was incapable of purchasing before attaching it.
The flip side of benaami purchase is that those in whose name the property exists — whom the scam accused trusted — are now refusing to return it to the accused,” said a source. Accused whose properties were attached lately — Seshmunni Ram and kingpin S.B. Sinha — died while the trial was on.
The I-T department indicated it would recover their dues from their legal heirs.
I-T sources say a considerable amount of wealth belonging to the scam accused might be in bank lockers. They identified 14 lockers belonging to just one accused.
“We managed to open six, two in Patna and four in Calcutta. We recovered share market documents worth Rs 5 crore,” the source said.
Banks’ help is being sought to identify more lockers.
“Gold worth $10 million is in the lockers. But the epicentre of the fodder scam was Ranchi, not Patna. We’ve just begun operations there. We’ll get more information soon,” the source said.
Five fodder scam accused whose undeclared
properties I-T department attached
• Late SB Sinha (former AHD official and scam kingpin)
• Late Seshmunni Ram (former AHD official)
• Tripurari Mohan Prasad (former AHD supplier)
• OP Diwakar (former AHD official)
• BN Sharma (former AHD official)