The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CBI traces Rs 40-lakh assets linked to Soren

New Delhi, Jan. 28: The CBI has tracked down the assets purportedly acquired by JMM leader Shibu Soren using the alleged bribe paid before the infamous confidence motion of 1993 that saved the Narasimha Rao government.

The agency has completed its investigation into the disproportionate assets case against Soren, one of the three MPs accused in the JMM bribery case, and has uncovered unaccounted assets of Rs 40.89 lakh linked to him.

The CBI is now waiting for sanction from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute him. Once it gets the go-ahead, the agency will file the chargesheet in a city court under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

It had filed chargesheets against the other MPs ó Suraj Mandal and Simon Marandi ó on November 21 last year.

In the JMM bribery case, the four Opposition MPs belonging to the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha were alleged to have voted for the Narasimha Rao government during a trust vote in 1993 in return for a payoff.

In calculating Sorenís wealth, the CBI has taken into account his income as Lok Sabha MP between June 1991 and August 1993 and matched it with movable and immovable assets he acquired during this time. A wide gap has been revealed between the known sources of income and the wealth accumulated by Soren, who is still the Jharkhand MP in the Lok Sabha.

Before he became an MP, Soren did not own any property in his name. The real estate he had was in his fatherís name, which was two pieces of land in the villages Raun Raun and Upparbarga in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand.

The revenue generated from this agricultural land was divided between Soren and his three brothers. The family also had Rs 3.06 lakh in cash deposits in banks and investments.

But Soren invested heavily in real estate after becoming MP. He purchased four plots in Vasundhara, a residential area in Ghaziabad, for Rs 3,60,000. The plots are in the name of Rupi Devi and their sons Durga Prasad, Laloo and Hemant, the sources added.

CBI officials alleged that Soren opened an account (no. 194) with the Punjab National Bankís Naroji Nagar branch in the capital in August 1993 and deposited Rs 30 lakh.

He opened a joint account (no. 195) in the same bank along with the other accused ó Mandal, Marandi and Shailendra Mahato, who later turned approver ó and deposited Rs 30 lakh. Since it is a joint account, the CBI has put Rs 7,50,000 against Sorenís name. Another joint account in the name of the four JMM MPs was opened in the same bank with a deposit of Rs 10,000, of which Rs 2,500 has been considered as Sorenís.

Apart from these cash deposits, the CBI has come across investments in two Unit Trust of India schemes of Rs 1 lakh. The assets found by the CBI have a combined value of Rs 44.79 lakh.

The CBI has put the total value of unaccounted assets at Rs 40.89 after deducting income from known sources. Such income included Rs 72,000 as MPís salary during the period under investigation and Rs 12,500 as agriculture earnings.

CBI officials alleged that Soren did not file income-tax returns for the unaccounted assets nor did he declare the property to the Lok Sabha secretariat.

In the course of the investigations, the CBI officials also came across a South Delhi flat brought in the name of Sorenís wife Rupi Devi for Rs 6.5 lakh in 1993, the sources said.

But this was not included while tabulating the unaccounted assets as it did not fall within the period of probe.

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