ED seizes 11.88 cr, Soren’s aide says his assets accounted for

Published on Jul 15, 2022 10:08 PM IST

The federal agency had searched at least 19 locations in Sahibganj, Barhet, Rajmahal, Mirza Chauki and Barharwa in Sahibganj district of the state on July 8.

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. (HT)
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. (HT)
By, Ranchi

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday said it has seized 11.88 crore kept in bank accounts of Pankaj Mishra, the political representative of Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, and others as part of its money laundering investigation into alleged illegal mining in the state.

The federal agency had searched at least 19 locations in Sahibganj, Barhet, Rajmahal, Mirza Chauki and Barharwa in Sahibganj district of the state on July 8.

In a statement issued on Friday, the agency said, “Cash amounting to 11.88 crore lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Pankaj Mishra, Dahoo Yadav and their associates has been seized under the Prevention of Money laundering Act in the illegal mining case. Five stone crushers that were being illegally operated and an equal number of “illegal firearm cartridges” have also been seized.”

“The evidence collected during the course of investigation, including statements of various persons, digital evidences and documents, revealed that the seized cash/bank balance is derived from illegal mining being rampantly done in Sahibganj area, including in the forest area,” the ED statement said.

A trail of 100 crore of proceeds of crime generated from alleged illegal mining has also been “unearthed” after these raids, the agency said.

Pankaj Mishra is a member of the central committee of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), besides being the constituency representative of CM Soren, who represents Barhait in the Jharkhand assembly. Owing to his position, Mishra holds sway both within the party and in governance issues, especially in the Santhal Parganas region, the stronghold of the ruling JMM.

When contacted, Mishra said all his assets, including the bank balance, are accounted for in his income tax returns, the documents of which are already with the ED. “Details of all my movable and immovable assets has been declared in my income tax returns. I can say it on record that as per my latest knowledge, I hold 1,06,29,265 in my bank account. If the agency I have anything beyond my declared income returns, they are free to take action,” Mishra said over phone.

The JMM leader said the ED had issued summons to him on July 12 to join investigation but he has sought for extension of time on health grounds.

“I called the agency today and requested they can question me on Tuesday. I was in hospital due to my persistent ailment related to my pancreas. I have returned home today. I have to go to a higher centre for treatment. I was in Uttarakhand for treatment on the day raid was conducted at my place. I am waiting for their response on my request of extension,” Mishra said.

The ED had, in May this year, raided IAS officer Pooja Singhal, her businessman husband and others as part of a money laundering investigation against them. The 2000-batch officer, who was holding the charge of Jharkhand mining secretary, was suspended by the state government following her arrest by the ED.

Suman Kumar, a chartered accountant (CA) linked to her and her husband, was also arrested by the agency, which said a total of 19.76 crore in cash was seized by it then. A charge sheet was filed against her and others by the agency before a special court in Ranchi this month.

“Evidences collected during the course of investigation (against Singhal and others), including those collected during the searches and statements of various persons, revealed that the major chunk of the seized cash was derived from illegal mining and it belonged to senior bureaucrats and politicians,” the ED statement said.

CM Soren is also facing a disqualification complaint for allegedly holding an office of profit.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Vishal Kant works as an Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He tracks developments in Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi government. Vishal has spent about a decade covering the city politics and governance, besides writing on Delhi’s civic issues, urban transport and infrastructure.

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