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ED’s property info snub for Ekka

Ranchi, May 28: Former minister Anosh Ekka’s attempts to find out through RTI applications from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing money laundering charges against him, whether his Delhi properties have been attached have come a cropper with the investigating agency refusing to divulge anything.

According to top ED sources, the Kolebira MLA, who is also facing disproportionate assets cases, filed an RTI plea — it is believed to be third in a row — before the agency’s central headquarters in Delhi a fortnight back. The officials there forwarded the plea to the Ranchi office, which, in turn, said that it had been exempted to share such critical information under Section 24 of the RTI Act, 2005.

“I think that he had sought to know thrice in the past through RTI pleas whether his Delhi properties had been attached by the ED. There must be some reason behind his curiosity,” said a top ED official on the condition of anonymity.

He further pointed out that revealing such information might affect the probe as an accused, on finding that the property had not been attached, might try to sell it off.

Under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) Act, sections of which have been invoked against Ekka, attached properties can be put up for auction only when the money laundering charges against an accused are proved.

“You can’t rule out similar motives in this case. The ED has to maintain confidentiality in investigations. Moreover, such orders (attachment of property) are passed by the ED adjudicating authority,” the official added.

According to sources, Ekka, who was a minister in the cabinets of Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren from 2005 to 2008, had acquired land at Fatehpur Dehri, New Delhi, and a house in the name of Dipak Lakra, cousin of his wife Menon Ekka, for which money was transferred from the account of M/s Ekka Construction Pvt Ltd.

When contacted to know about his communication with the ED, Ekka, who had recently tried his luck in Lok Sabha polls from Khunti, fumed.

“The ED is suppressing information. In fact, ED officials want me to furnish details of my other so-called undisclosed property. This is ridiculous! I had invested white money to buy these properties and had filed IT returns. Now, the ED is suddenly claiming that I have amassed properties worth Rs 12 crore,” he said.

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