Multi-crore graft case: ED books ex-GMADA chief engineer for money laundering
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case under money laundering charges against former chief engineer of Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) Surinderpal Singh, alias Pehalwan, and others in the multi-crore graft case.
Besides Pehalwan, ED has also named Gurinderpal Singh, Amit Garg, Gurmesh Singh Gill, Mohit Kumar, along with two firms — Onkar Builders and Contractors, and Rajinder and Company — as accused in the case. The agency has filed an enforcement case information report (ECIR), seen by HT, under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act at its zonal office in Jalandhar on the basis of probe details shared by Punjab vigilance bureau (VB).
The ED has registered the case nearly four years after the VB shared the documents with the central agency in August 2017. Sources said the documents shared by VB were sufficient to lodge a money laundering case in 2017. Thereafter, the ED wrote letters seeking more details of the case in 2017 and 2018. The vigilance shared one chargesheet and some other case documents with the central agency in July 2020 in reply to the latter communication to the state agency in January 2019, almost after a period of one and a half years.
The ED officials said they were yet to receive the remaining three challans from VB.
In November 2019, the Punjab and Haryana high court had directed an additional district and sessions court, Mohali, to finish its trial against Pehalwan, in an alleged multi-crore graft case within a year while denying bail. However, in 2020, Supreme Court granted him bail.
The state vigilance bureau had arrested Pehalwan, an alleged favourite of the Badal family of Shiromani Akali Dal, on June 9, 2017. According to the vigilance probe, Pehalwan allotted works of around ₹1,200 crore at exorbitant rates. He is also accused of parking his black money in accounts of bogus firms and family members. Pehalwan joined as a junior engineer in Punjab mandi board in 1993. He became a superintending engineer in GMADA in 2014 and officiated as a chief engineer there from 2016.
In September 2019, VB had also attached 59 properties of the former GMADA chief engineer amounting to ₹26 crore (approx) as per the orders of a Mohali court. The VB has already filed four challans against Pehalwan and others so far in the case.
As per the vigilance probe, Pehalwan had registered three fake companies in the name of family members and made transactions of hundreds of crores through banks. During his GMADA stint, he had formed a fake construction company “Ek Onkar Builders and Construction Pvt Ltd” and illegally allotted it tenders thereby amassing ill-gotten money to the tune of ₹400 crore. He also purchased various properties in Ludhiana, Ropar, Mohali, and Chandigarh amounting to ₹26 crore with the money.
The vigilance case against him and others had been registered under sections 420 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and 13 (1) (d) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. He also faces two more vigilance cases of disproportionate assets and forging birth certificate to get a government job, registered in 2017.