Bhanu Pratap Shahi
Ranchi, May 9: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is planning to approach the CBI court hearing the disproportionate assets charges against former minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi, urging it to club that case along with the money laundering case being probed by it to speed up trial.
Both the assets and the money laundering cases, dealing with offences of the same kind, are being heard by the special CBI court of R.K. Choudhary, who also heads the designated court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has invoked the PMLA Act against Shahi for laundering public money during his tenure as labour and health minister in Madhu Koda’s cabinet between 2005 and 2009.
“This proposal is seriously under discussion as Section 441(B) of the PMLA Act allows the ED to do so. The agencies may together decide on the future course of action. As both the ED and the CBI are investigating similar cases and are dependent on same set of evidences and witnesses, such a move will help speedy disposal of the cases,” said a top ED official.
The CBI chargesheet filed in 2011 says that the former labour and health minister owned disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 7 lakh.
The ED filed its chargesheet in March this year, accusing Shahi, his cousin Santoshi Devi, nephew Prashant Kumar Singh, his then officer on special duty Uma Shankar Malviya and business aide Ajay Kumar Singh of amassing assets worth Rs 7,97,96,888 between 2005 and 2009 by misusing his official powers.
The ED also listed two frontal companies floated by Shahi — M/s Sonanchal Buildcon Private Ltd and M/s Angesh Trading Co. Private Ltd — to launder cash and handle investments worth crores.
After the ED filed the chargesheet, Shahi moved Jharkhand High Court for relief, requesting it to issue suitable directives to the agency so that he was not unnecessarily harassed when he appeared before the PMLA court.
But the ED did not arrest him.
The CBI, on the other hand, arrested him in the assets case on August 6, 2011.
He was released on bail on May 14 last year.