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ED banks on aide to nail Shahi

Ranchi, Feb. 8: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is getting ready to tighten the noose around former state health minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi on the basis of information given by one of his former aides in a case related to embezzling public money.

In a written statement yesterday, Shahi’s former private assistant Sanjay Kumar Jha said that the former minister in the Madhu Koda cabinet had set up Dehati Asthapna Trust with the sole purpose of making his ill-gotten money white.

Jha’s submission has not only corroborated the ED’s claim, but has also put Shahi and his father Hemendra Pratap Dehati — on whose name the trust was formed — in a spot.

“If somebody is disposing before the agency under Section 50 of PMLA, it will be admissible in the court of law as evidence. Jha’s statement has corroborated ED’s findings that the very motive behind establishing the trust was to hide ill-gotten money. I believe further investigations are required to determine whether to club Jha along with Shahi as an accused in the case or not,” a senior ED official said.

Apart from Jha, Shahi’s relative Prakash Singh is also a member of the trust.

According to sources, the agency has so far come across Rs 25.45 lakh in the trust’s accounts whose donors’ were found to be non-existent.

In the five-page statement, Jha admitted that he had created fake receipts of donations on the instructions of Shahi.

Further, Jha said that Shahi’s former officer on special duty Uma Shankar Malviya, who is currently with the road construction department (Ranchi division) and under suspension right now, was instrumental in managing the trust’s affairs, including its finances.

In 2009, ED had lodged an FIR against Shahi, his sister Santoshi Devi, Shahi’s nieces Prakash Singh and Prashant Singh and one Ajay Singh, a Delhi-based businessman who allegedly invested Shahi’s money through two business firms — Sonanchal Buildcon Private Limited and Angesh Trading.

Last month, the agency served summons on Jha, Malviya, Dehati and Prakash.

Prakash denied having any knowledge about financial dealings of the trust.

Dehati cited illness to seek more time to appear before the agency, while Malviya is yet to appear for questioning.

ED sources revealed that Malviya allegedly acquired property worth more than his known sources of income in his and wife Ranjana’s name from 2006 to 2008.