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ED pounces on Shahi’s fat purse

Ranchi, March 25: Enforcement Directorate (ED) today chargesheeted health and labour minister of Madhu Koda government Bhanu Pratap Shahi, with four others, under Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 for allegedly amassing assets to the tune of Rs 7,97,96,888 by abusing his office between 2005 and 2009.

Apart from Shahi (spelt Sahi in the chargesheet), co-accused include his cousin Santoshi Devi, nephew Prashant Kumar Singh, his officer on special duty during the period Uma Shankar Malviya and business aide Ajay Kumar Singh.

The ED also listed two frontal companies of Shahi — M/s Sonanchal Buildcon Private Ltd and M/s Angesh Trading Co. Private Ltd — which laundered cash and handled investments worth crores.

The ED submitted prosecution papers before special judge CBI-cum-PMLA Court R.K. Choudhary, claimed Sahi abused his official position to acquire assets that he invested in moveable and immovable properties at Garhwa, Ranchi and Delhi in his own name and that of his relatives, trusts and frontal companies.

The ED added the quantum of property acquired by the former minister far exceeded his earned salary or known sources of income, after being elected as member of the Assembly in 2005.

The prosecution file runs into 80 pages. It reveals Shahi in 2008 had purchased two plots at Hotwasi near Hatia Dam site in Ranchi, valued at Rs 15,28,456 in the name of his cousin Santoshi Devi.

ED contended that Anirudh Pratap Sengar, Santoshi’s husband, was a lowly placed employee of M/s Hindalco at Muri and did not have financial capability or means to purchase the land.

Nevertheless, Santoshi Devi had claimed she purchased land by selling her jewellery worth Rs 4,50,000 to a jeweller in Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. Jeweller Binod Soni, who turned ED witness, disclosed that instead of selling, Santoshi Devi bought jewellery worth Rs 4,50,000. She also claimed that to buy land she took loans — Rs 2,00,000 from her husband’s friend Pankaj Kumar and Rs 3,00,000 from her mother —but the ED found her claims as false.

Sahi also bought 4.18 acres at the same site valued at Rs. 4,61,018 in the name of his sister’s son-in-law Ravindra Pratap Singh, now deceased. Based on statements made by landowners Basanteswari Prasad and Hemant Prasad and papers, the agency claimed Shahi had paid Rs 60 lakh.

During 2005 to 2009 Sahi purchased another four plots, together valued at Rs 13,24,762 in the name of Trust Dehati Sthapna Nyas of which he is the authorised signatory. The ED said Sahi tried to justify this purchase by showing a forged donation receipt.

Sahi also purchased five immovable properties at Gurgaon valued at Rs 284,65,500 in the name of M/s Sonanchal Buildcon P Ltd and M/s Angesh Trading Co P Ltd, both in Delhi. Nephews Prashant Kumar Singh and Abhishek Kumar Singh are the directors of these firms. Both laundered money.

ED furnished list of around 25 witnesses in this case.

Both ED and CBI are investigating case against Sahi and associates. But while the CBI is looking into the disproportionate assets angle, the ED is probing into the money-laundering aspects.