J'khand IAS officer Pooja Singhal, her CA remanded to four more days of ED custody

PTI | Ranchi | Updated: 16-05-2022 23:36 IST | Created: 16-05-2022 23:36 IST
J'khand IAS officer Pooja Singhal, her CA remanded to four more days of ED custody
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A special PMLA court on Monday extended the ED custody of suspended Jharkhand IAS officer Pooja Singhal by four more days in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds, a lawyer of the central agency said.

Her Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar's custody was also extended for a similar period of time by the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court of Prabhat Kumar Sharma at his residential office.

A day after being arrested in connection with the money laundering case and remanded to the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Jharkhand government on Thursday had suspended state mining secretary Pooja Singhal, an official said.

''The special PMLA court has remanded both Pooja Singhal and her Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar to ED custody for four more days till May 20. The court was closed today on account of holiday and they were produced at the residential office of Prabhat Kumar Sharma. Court proceedings were carried out there itself,'' counsel for ED, BMP Singh, told PTI.

Singhal was arrested on May 11 by the ED after two consecutive days of questioning.

The ED had produced her before a special PMLA court and took her into custody for five days from May 12.

Singh said the ED had sought extension of custody of Singhal for nine more days against which four days were granted while in the case of her CA, who was in ED custody for nine days, extension of five more days was sought but four days was granted.

The ED has also summoned three district mining officials and interrogation of two of them is underway.

Based on ''incriminating materials'' seized during searches, various suspected persons including three district mining officers and witnesses have been called for questioning.

The agency also informed the court that the digital devices of both Singhal and her CA which were seized have been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

''The detailed report has not yet come but a voluminous working copy is available,'' Singh said, adding that the extended custody was required for examining and verifying data.

ED is also examining all details related to Pulse Hospital, allegedly owned by the bureaucrat and her family, its construction, purchase of equipment as it is suspected that the medical facility was used to ''launder'' tainted funds.

The 44-year-old 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer was suspended by the Jharkhand government on Thursday as part of the procedure undertaken, in case of a government servant being arrested in a criminal case, within 24 hours of the receipt of information.

The officer was posted as the secretary of industries and was handling the charge of the secretary of the state mining and geology department in her additional capacity.

She was arrested in the money laundering case linked to alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds and some other alleged suspicious financial transactions after the ED raided her premises on May 6 along with that of her businessman husband Abhishek Jha, Suman Kumar and others.

Suman Kumar was arrested following the seizure of more than Rs 17.79 crore in cash allegedly from his residential and office premises.

The ED had said ''independent valuation'' of the land and building of the hospital (including a diagnostic centre owned by Singhal) is more than Rs 40 crore and the value of plant and machinery is found to be more than Rs 30 crore.

However, in the financials of the hospital, much less valuation has been declared, the agency had claimed.

The ED investigation 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.

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

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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