Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached movable and immovable property worth more than Rs 6 crore that a dismissed executive engineer of the public works department (buildings and roads) had amassed through bogus bills for construction at different government buildings in Mansa district.
Once enjoying the patronage of a powerful Akali leader of Malwa, executive engineer Joginder Singh has been found to have more than 10 flats and plots worth Rs 4 crore in Punjab and Chandigarh, besides 1-kilogram gold and Rs 1.25 crore cash in a Bathinda bank account. Known as “Jugadu XEN” because of his political links, Joginder Singh had fallen into the vigilance bureau (VB) hands in the case registered in September 2012 at Mansa, where he was last posted. Looking into its financial angle, the ED had booked him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The case made headlines in 2012 because of the alleged Akali patronage to the executive engineer, and the pressure on the vigilance bureau to “control the damage”. The ED has attached the property after concluding that it was bought through illegal means. VB’s senior superintendent of police in Bathinda, Sukhdev Singh Chahal, who had arrested Joginder Singh along with subdivisional officer (SDO) Sarabjeet Singh and a few other PWD contractors, said these men were now out on bail.
Joginder Singh robbed the exchequer of crores of rupees by preparing fake documents and letters of credit for cashing government cheques in the name of development and civil works, say sources in the ED.
The diversion of funds came to light in July 2011 after some Mansa contractors sought payment against different executed government works, and records showed that the money had been released already, on paper.
To cite an example, out of Rs 10.5 crore was sanctioned for a degree college project in Sardulgarh, Rs 3.12 crore was diverted to a mystery work, while the contractor is yet to get his Rs 3 crore. Of Rs 7 crore meant for laying a bridge in Mansa, Rs 2 crore was diverted; while Rs 1 crore meant for a polytechnic college in Bareta and a veterinary hospital were also diverted to a work of which there is no record.
The PWD’s three-member inquiry committee formed in September 2011 submitted in an interim report in November 2011 that the now-arrested executive engineer was involved in illegal practices.
VB probe raises many questions
The ED has attached the executive engineer’s properties but the vigilance bureau investigation raises many doubts, as only two men (this officer and the SDO) were dismissed in a racket that seemed bigger.
The investigation is silent on why Joginder Singh continued to enjoy posting in Mansa until 2012 when the departmental inquiry against him had been pending till 2011. Sources in the ED said diverting funds for the sanctioned works was impossible without the connivance of many big officials.
“Since our role is to investigate the money-laundering angle, only vigilance investigation can clear the air,” said an ED official.
10 flats and plots Rs 4 cr
Cash in bank account Rs 1.25 cr
1kg gold Rs 26 lakh