Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal arrested by ED in money laundering case
The 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer has been taken into ED custody under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The arrest follows two consecutive days of grilling for a probe linked to alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds in Khunti and other charges.
News agency PTI quoted sources as saying that Singhal was "evasive" in her replies and hence was arrested. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will produce her before a local court here seeking her remand.
Singhal was at the ED office for about nine hours on Tuesday.
The ED had conducted raids against the bureaucrat, her businessman husband Abhishek Jha and others on 6 May in Jharkhand and a few other locations.
Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar was arrested in this case on 7 May, and four SUVs – a Jaguar, a Fortuner and two Honda brand cars – which were in his name were also seized.
The ED is probing his alleged links with the IAS officer and her husband.
What is the case about?
The ED probe 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 17 June 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 21 March 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.