On a day Madhu Koda (38) said he was a “poor” man who had been framed, and would not keep a Monday appointment with investigators, new evidence emerged that the former Jharkhand chief minister and his associates had bought two cruise ships.
The ships were purchased along with the Mumbai-based firm, Threewin Maritime Indian Pvt Ltd, that owns them. These are the latest revelations in the unravelling of a business empire that investigators said ranges from an iron ore mine in Liberia to illegal allotment of mines set aside for state companies.
“We traced account numbers, records and transaction details that show the ships were bought by Koda’s associates, two of whom, Manoj Punamia and Arvind Vyas, made payments,” an income tax (I-T) officer, who didn’t want to be identified, said.
In his hometown Chaibasa, 130 km from Ranchi, Koda said on Saturday: “I’m being harassed as I am a poor tribal. This is a political conspiracy.”
The ex-CM is campaigning here for assembly polls starting November 25. He has fielded six candidates, including wife Gita, under his new party, Jharkhand Navnirman Morcha, in West Singhbhum district.
“I’ll quit politics if the charges leveled against me are proved,” he told HT. “They (investigators) accused me of donating money to Naxals. If they have substantiating document, why don’t they make it public?”
He said he’d remain among his people till polling got over.
“I am standing in janata ki adalat (people’s court). I don’t need a certificate from anyone else.”
Koda, who worked his way up from labourer to CM, and his associates are accused of amassing huge assets and making illegal transactions worth roughly Rs 4,000 crore. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which probes illegal foreign exchange transactions, has told him to appear before it November 19.
Documents with I-T sleuths reveal Puniama and Vyas paid Rs 8.70 crore in cheques, some of which match the accounts maintained by key Koda associate and prime accused Sanjay Choudhary. “Puniama admitted to these transactions a few days ago,” the officer said.
I-T officials said Koda and company also allotted iron ore mines in Chaibasa that were reserved for public sector undertakings to about 10 private parties. “We are probing this as well,” the officer said.
Koda became CM at age 35, serving from September 2006 to August 2008. In 2005, his declaration to the Election Commission listed total assets of Rs 12 lakh. After the I-T raids on his premises, he complained of stomach ache and was hospitalised on November 3. He was discharged on November 8.
With B. Vijay Murty in Chaibasa