The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren’s press advisor Abhishek Prasad on August 1 for questioning in a money laundering probe linked to an alleged illegal mining scam in Jharkhand, officials said on Tuesday.
The ED, on July 19, had arrested a political aide of Chief Minister Soren, Pankaj Mishra, in this case. He is in the agency’s custody at present.
Officials said Abhishek Prasad alias Pintu has been summoned on August 1 at the ED office here for questioning in connection with the money-laundering case linked to illegal mining in Sahibganj and other districts in Santhal Paraganas division.
The ED probe against Mr Mishra and his alleged associates was launched on July 8 after the federal probe agency raided at least 19 locations in Sahibganj, Barhet, Rajmahal, Mirza Chauki and Barharwa in Jharkhand in the case linked to alleged irregularities in the operation of toll plaza tenders and instances of illegal mining in the state.
The searches were launched after the ED filed a PMLA case in March against Mr Mishra and others alleging he “illegally grabbed/amassed huge assets in his favour.” After the raids, the ED had frozen deposits of Rs 11.88 crore lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Mr Mishra and Dahoo Yadav, a person linked to him.
Apart from this, “unaccounted” cash amounting to Rs 5.34 crore was also seized by the agency, which claimed that the money was linked to “illegal mining” in Jharkhand.
Five stone crushers that were being “illegally” operated and an equal number of “illegal firearm cartridges” were also seized by the ED.
“The evidence collected during the course of the investigation, including the statements of various persons, digital evidence and documents, revealed that the seized cash/bank balance is derived from illegal mining being rampantly done in the Sahibganj area, including the forest area,” the ED had said.
The agency said it was probing a trail of Rs 100 crore of “proceeds of crime” generated from illegal mining operations in the state.
It had recently stated that cash amounting to more than Rs 36 crore, linked to “illegal mining” in Jharkhand, was seized by its teams over the last more than two months as part of two separate money-laundering investigations.
The second instance where cash linked to alleged illegal mining in the state was unearthed pertains to the ED action against suspended Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Pooja Singhal in May.
Apart from the 2000-batch IAS officer, her businessman husband, a chartered accountant linked to the couple and others were raided by the ED as part of a money laundering probe linked to a case of alleged corruption in the MGNREGA scheme.
Ms Singhal, 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 linked to Singhal and her husband, was also arrested by the agency and cash amounting to Rs 19.76 crore was seized by it.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)