After successfully cornering the infamous Ritlal Yadav under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the enforcement directorate (ED) has bigger plans for Bihar. It is now gearing up to move against several other hardened criminals, contractors, businessmen, industrialists and politicians.
ED sleuths are studying several cases in which the accused have been probed, apprehended, chargesheeted and even convicted by various law enforcement agencies, but their ill-gotten wealth has never been confiscated.
"There are several instances in Bihar, in which wrongdoers have converted their black money into white money by investing it in businesses, industries and the realty sector. Many have channeled their money through a network of bank accounts, or made it look like small loans from hundreds of other people," said an ED official, who did not wish to be named.
Giving an example, he talked about how the agency sleuths tracked down a culprit, who started a company on paper, shelled out lakhs of shares with a face value of Rs. 10 and sold them at a premium of Rs. 390. The interesting aspect is, that the purchasers were provided money to buy the shares by the same person.
Keeping in tune its plans, the ED is to upgrade its sub-zonal office manned by a dozen odd officials, to a full-fledged zonal office with a joint director at the helm. More staff would be deputed and its present office in the state capital shifted to a more spacious one.
Though the agency had earlier requested the state government for space, it is now arranging it on its own. The new office would be ready within a couple of months with the latest communication and surveillance facilities and its jurisdiction would extend over Bihar and Jharkhand.
"Till now, we had been concentrating mostly on Jharkhand, where investigation was going on in cases like the Madhu Koda scam or the recent national rural health mission (NRHM) scam, in which, a former health minister and two IAS officers are already in the net. The new office would come in handy as our work in Bihar increases," said another ED official.
Officials of the law enforcement-cum-economic intelligence agency believe, that Bihar could prove to be a hotbed of money laundering activities. It has already asked the state government agencies, including the vigilance, to provide copies of FIRs and chargesheets in a few grave corruption cases.
It is also expecting a shot in the arm after the Parliament provides it powers to initiate suo motu action in money laundering cases. As of now, it can take cognizance of any case only after other central or state agencies file an FIR.