Bhanu Pratap Shahi
Ranchi, May 13: Enforcement Directorate (ED) today ordered the attachment of one-time minister and kingmaker Bhanu Pratap Shahi’s property spread across India, putting Garhwa’s Chhote Sarkar, already in political exile, in serious trouble.
ED adjudicating authority Mukesh Kumar’ order pegged the worth of Shahi’s property at Rs 7.97 crore, which sources in the investigating agency claimed was the tip of the iceberg.
Top ED sources who confirmed the ruling said Shahi’s alleged property — in Garhwa, Ranchi, Delhi, Gurgaon and Uttar Pradesh — will now come under ED’s possession.
Shahi, who held health and labour portfolios in the cabinet of Jharkhand’s only Independent chief minister, Madhu Koda, was named in the enforcement case information report or ECIR (the equivalent of an FIR) in 2009, where he, Koda and some other colleagues were accused of amassing assets worth crores.
The ED had moved the attachment process last December, which Shahi challenged. But the adjudicating authority relied on documents tabled by the ED that apparently proved Shahi misused his official position between 2005 and 2009 to amass property by swindling public money.
Shahi apart, the other accused include his cousin Santoshi Devi, nephew Prashant Kumar Singh, his then officer on special duty Uma Shankar Malviya, his Delhi-based business partner Ajay Kumar Singh and two frontal companies M/s Sonanchal Buildcon Private Ltd and Angesh Trading Co. Pvt Ltd.
Seized property includes two plots at Hotwasi Hatia dam site, Ranchi, together valued at Rs 15.28 lakh which he purchased on Santoshi’s name, and a third, at the same place, valued at Rs 4.61 lakh on the name of Ravindra Pratap Singh, now deceased, who was Santoshi’s son-in-law.
The sellers, brothers Basanteshwari Prasad and Hemant Prasad, have, however, claimed actual payments made by Shahi were higher. For instance, Shahi paid Rs 60 lakh in four instalments for the third plot, which he said he had bought for Rs 4.61 lakh.
ED has in its possession the deed copy of the sale.
Shahi also bought four plots at village Jangipur in Garhwa district and built a college called Maa Nagina Sahi Mahavidyalaya, in the name of his mother (Sahi spelt according to the ED’s order sheet). A Trust named after his father Hemendra Pratap Dehati, Dehati Sthapna Nyas, acted as the frontal outfit for the college. The land, apparently valued at Rs 13.24 lakh, and the building, at Rs 25.45 lakh, have been attached.
Additionally, Rs 31 lakh deposited in the bank in the trust’s account has also been attached.
Shahi earlier argued the money in the trust’s name was collected through donations, but his former aide-turned ED witness Sanjay Kumar Jha and chartered accountant Vinay Jalan denied it.
The ED will take possession of five immovable properties of Shahi and associates at Gurgaon valued at Rs 2.84 crore under the name of Sonanchal Buildcon and Angesh Trading Co. Santoshi’s sons Prashant and Abhishek are company directors, but only the former is an accused.
The ED, which said the two companies laundered Shahi’s ill-gotten money, also traced bank accounts. Apparently, Rs 1.15 crore had been deposited at Bank of Maharashtra, Dayanand Vihar Branch in Delhi. These two companies have documents to show mobilisation of Rs 2.11 crore and Rs 1.40 crore through individual loans, but the money belonged to Shahi and his aides, a senior ED official claimed.
Shahi won the 2005 Assembly elections from Garhwa’s Bhawnathpur seat as a Forward Bloc nominee. Unlike Koda, his equally or more tainted boss, Shahi couldn’t rescue his political career despite being out of jail since May 2013.