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ED arrests former IAS official on money laundering charge

Case pertains to alleged corruption, cheating, forgery and disproportionate assets

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested a former IAS official, Babu Lal Agrawal, in connection with a case of alleged corruption, cheating, forgery and disproportionate assets. The accused used shell companies for money laundering.

The agency has secured the custody of Mr. Agrawal till November 12. He was arrested from his residence in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur on Monday.

FIR by ACB

The ED initiated the money laundering probe based on an FIR registered by the State government’s Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB), alleging accumulation of assets disproportionate to the income from known sources of Mr. Agrawal and his family members.

Earlier, in February 2010, the Income Tax Department had searched the premises of the accused, his family members and chartered accountant, Sunil Agrawal.

The Central Bureau of Investigation also instituted multiple FIRs and filed chargesheets against Mr. Agrawal and others, which are also being pursued by the ED from the money laundering angle. One of the cases, registered in January 2010, pertained to alleged abuse of official position to misappropriate the grant received from the Central government.

Another case, registered in December 2010, alleged tampering of records of a bank locker from which ₹15 lakh in cash was seized. Both the money and the locker were owned by Mr. Agrawal’s family. A chargesheet has already been filed in the case, said the ED in a statement.

The third case was registered in February 2017, on the allegation that Mr. Agrawal attempted to bribe public servants, in conspiracy with one Bhagwan Singh and Syed Sohrabuddin. It is alleged that Sohrabuddin, pretending to be an official with the Prime Minister’s Office at that time, had promised the former IAS official that the CBI cases would be transferred to the State ACB for Rs.1.50 crore in bribe.

The agency alleged that Mr. Agrawal paid ₹40 lakh in cash and two kg of gold to Bhagwan Singh, which were seized from him and other intermediaries. The CBI has filed a chargesheet in the case.

Tender contracts

According to the ED, Mr. Agrawal had played an active role in splitting the tender contracts related to World Bank-aided malaria control programme and awarding them to certain non-existing entities, thereby causing losses to the exchequer.

In connivance with his chartered accountant, his brother Ashok and one Pawan, the accused had opened more than 400 bank accounts in the name of locals in Kharora and other nearby villages in Chhattisgarh. The accounts were used to deposit about ₹46 crore in cash, which was subsequently laundered through the shell entities opened by the chartered accountant and other entities, alleges the agency.

The funds were ultimately parked in Prime Ispat Limited (Raipur) as investment in shares. The ED has so far attached properties worth ₹36.09 crore, which includes assets of Prime Ispat Limited and Mr. Agrawal. The agency had also arrested the chartered accountant, it said.

Source: thehindu.com

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