The Income tax department on Saturday conducted countrywide searches at altogether 70 locations in 10 towns against former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda (38), his business associates and friends, two of them reporters in an electronic channels, and claimed to have found evidences of disproportionate assets worth Rs 200 crores.
Passbooks and documents related to over 200 bank accounts and several bank lockers have been seized. The IT has put a ban on operation of all these bank accounts and lockers. The daylong searches also yielded documentary evidences about huge investments in different factories and mines, some of them in abroad.
The searches, which began at 9.30 am this morning, were carried out at the residences and business establishments of altogether 22 persons including Koda, his main business associates Binod Sinha, Sanjay Choudhary, some contractors and two Ranchi-based reporters of an electronic channel.
Searches were also conducted at the residences of Harendra Singh, Arun Shrivastawa, who were personal staff of Koda when he was chief minister in between September 2006 and August 2008.
Altogether 400 officers and employees of Income Tax departments were engaged in the searches that were conducted in association with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) at cities like Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Chaibasa, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Nasik and Koda’s ancestral village Patahatu in West Singhbhum district.
A deputy director-rank officer of ED is camping in Ranchi for the last three days to assist the IT officials in their plan. The ED has already registered a case against Koda, three of his former cabinet colleagues and his business associates for alleged money laundering and investment of huge funds in other countries.
“It appears there were unaccounted money transactions when Koda was minister of mines and geology during the Arjun Munda Government and subsequently during (his) chief ministership in between 2006-08," IT Director of Investigation Ujjawal Choudhary and Additional Director Ajit Shrivastava told media persons here.
The ED had registered the case on October 9 against Koda and three of his ministerial colleagues (Bandhu Tirkey, Bhanu Pratap Sahi and Kamlesh Singh) on charges of making huge illegal investments abroad, including purchase of mines as far as in Liberia.
The searches were launched on the basis of the IT's own intelligence inputs, Choudhary said.
Koda, who may also face arrest, is the first former chief minister and high-profile politician to have been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Currently an independent member of the Lok Sabha from Singhbhum constituency, Koda held the mines portfolio twice in two governments led by Arjun Munda between 2003 and 2006. He shot into fame after he clinched a political coup with Congress support and became chief minister in September 2006 as an independent MLA.
According to the ED’s case lodged with a Ranchi-based court, Koda is alleged to have purchased mines in Liberia worth $ 17 lakh (Rs 8.5 crore) besides making other 'benami' purchases in the name of his close confidant Binod Sinha, once a tractor mechanic. As per the ED’s FIR, the property in the name of Sinha runs into several hundred crores of rupees.
An IT officials said, documents regarding purchase of flats and real estate in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Gaziabad had also been recovered from the houses of Koda’s business associates.