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ED arrest Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal in corruption case

The 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer arrived at the agency's regional office in Hinoo area around 10:40 AM.

By Newsd
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Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal appears before ED for second day

Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal appeared before the ED for the second consecutive day in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds in Khunti and other charges, officials said on Wednesday.

The 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer arrived at the agency’s regional office in Hinoo area around 10:40 AM.

The federal agency had recorded the statement of the officer under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The officer was present for about nine hours at its office on Tuesday.

The statement of her businessman husband Abhishek Jha has also been recorded by the agency.

The agency also carried out some fresh raids in Kolkata in connection with the case.

The questioning of the couple comes after the ED conducted raids against the bureaucrat, her husband, their linked entities and others on May 6 in Jharkhand and a few other locations.

The agency has also seized four SUVs — a Jaguar, a Fortuner and two Honda brand cars — which were in the name of arrested CA Suman Kumar or his linked persons under the anti-money laundering law.

The Enforcement Directorate investigation against Singhal and others pertains to a money-laundering case in which former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha, was arrested by the agency on June 17, 2020 from West Bengal after he was booked by the agency under the PMLA in 2012 after studying the FIRs of the state vigilance bureau against him.

Sinha was booked by the vigilance bureau under criminal sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertaining to cheating and corruption for allegedly defrauding public money and investing it in his own name as well as in the name of his family members while working as junior engineer from April 1, 2008 to March 21, 2011.

The said money was earmarked for the execution of government projects under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in Khunti district, the agency had earlier said.

Sinha told the ED that ”he paid five per cent commission (out of the defrauded funds) to the district administration.” During the period, the ED had alleged, charges of ”irregularities” were made against Singhal while she served as the deputy commissioner/district magistrate of Chatra, Khunti and Palamu between 2007 and 2013.

The agency arrested Kumar in this case on May 7 after seizing over Rs 17 crore cash from his premises. He is in ED custody till May 11.

The ED is probing his alleged links with the IAS officer and her husband.

The agency had claimed, in a remand note presented to the court for Kumar, that Singhal and her husband received ”huge” cash deposits — to the tune of Rs 1.43 crore — over and above her salary in their accounts, during the period she faced charges of irregularities while being posted as the DM of various districts in the state.

The ED also told a special PMLA court in Ranchi that the IAS officer allegedly transferred Rs 16.57 lakh from her ”personal account” to those controlled or owned by her CA Kumar.