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Pune hawala man grilled in Koda case

Ranchi, May 6: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today interrogated hawala operator Ajay Amolchand Bafna, one of the 14 accused in the multi-crore money laundering scam involving former chief minister Madhu Koda and his aides.

Bafna, who is from Pune, was quizzed for over six hours at the ED’s Pee Pee compound office in the state capital

Known as Bhau in close circle, the hawala operator is believed to have denied ever meeting Koda or any another accused in the case. He also claimed that he did not help anyone make investments in foreign countries.

But the ED officers confronted him with documents seized during raids as well as statements made by some of the accused, who have named Bafna as one of the key links between the money laundered by Koda & Co. and investments made in foreign destinations.

“Bafna was questioned from 9am to 3.30pm. He mostly faced questions about his role in investment of a sum of Rs 200 crore, siphoned off by Koda and his associates, in foreign countries. Bafna was closely associated with Sanjay Choudhary (the kingpin of the scam who is absconding) and helped him put in money in companies mainly in Indonesia and the UAE,” said an ED official.

According to the ED, a total of Rs 3,549.72 crore was laundered out of the state to various domestic and overseas destinations during Koda’s chief ministerial tenure between 2006 and 2008. During raids at 60 places across the country in 2009, the income tax department had seized valuable documents from Bafna’s residence.

Apart from Koda and Bafna, the other accused are Binod Sinha, Bikas Sinha, Sanjay Choudhary, Dhananjay Choudhary, Manoj Kumar Sinha, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Rohitash Krishnan, Saubhik Chattopadhyay, Manoj Punamiya, Vijay Joshi, Arvind Vyash and Anil Adinath Bastwade.

In 2010, a PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court in Ranchi had issued an arrest warrant against Bafna, who, in turn, challenged the order at Jharkhand High Court. In 2011, when the ED sought to seek a nod from the PMLA court to issue a proclamation notice against Bafna, he again approached the high court, which asked him to co-operate with the investigation.

Bafna subsequently appeared for interrogation before the ED. “It is a multi-layered investigation. We are focusing on the foreign investment leg of the probe. Bafna’s interrogation was in this connection,” an ED official.

Koda is now out on bail.


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