Sunday, May 29, 2022

Pooja Singhal arrested: Jharkhand CM hints at action against those who issued clean chit to the IAS in 2017

Ranchi, May 11: The Enforcement Directorate arrested Jharkhand mining secretary Pooja Singhal on Wednesday in connection with a money-laundering probe linked to the alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds and other charges.

Earlier on Wednesday, Singhal was summoned for questioning.

Notably, She was questioned for around nine hours on Monday also.

This is the second arrest in this case as Chartered Accountant Suman Kumar is already arrested by ED on May 7.  ED recovered Rs 17.51 crore from its premises of Kumar and Rs 1.8 crore from pulse Hospital.

Singhal was arrested after ED got credible evidence of her connection with CA Suman Kumar.

Earlier this month, ED conducted raids at Pulse Hospital, Ranchi. The hospital is owned by Abhishek Jha, husband of Pooja Singhal, Secretary, Mines and Geology, in Jharkhand.

Senior advocate of Jharkhand High Court, Rajeev Kumar, submitted a complaint against her to the ED in February 2022.

Earlier on Sunday, the ED interrogated Abhishek Jha, husband of Pooja Singhal, IAS, in connection with searches at Pulse Hospital.

Pooja Singhal is the secretary of the Department of Mines and Geology and the Managing Director of Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation Limited (JSMDC).

The Enforcement Directorate’s investigation against Pooja Singhal and others pertains to a money laundering case in which former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha, was arrested by the agency on June 17, 2020 from West Bengal after he was booked by the agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 in 2012.

Ram Binod Prasad Sinha was accused of defrauding public money and investing it in his own name as well as in the name of his family members between April 1, 2008 and March 21, 2011.

The said money was earmarked for the execution of government projects under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in Khunti district, the agency had earlier said.

The accused told the ED that “he paid five per cent commission (out of the defrauded funds) to the district administration.”

During the period, the ED alleged, charges of “irregularities” were made against Pooja Singhal while she served as the deputy commissioner of Chatra, Khunti and Palamau districts between 2007 and 2013.

On May 6, the ED had conducted raids against Singhal, her businessman husband Abhishek Jha and others in Jharkhand and a few other locations. Ranchi-based chartered accountant Suman Kumar was arrested in this case on May 7.

Over Rs 19 crore was recovered during raids at 18 premises in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and other places in the case recently. Of this, Rs 17.49 crore was found on the premises of Suman Kumar alone.

Chief minister Hemant Soren speaking to media on the arrest of the mining secretary Pooja Singha after the cabinet meeting said that “All possible legal actions will be taken by the state government on this issue”.

The chief minister also hinted that government might take action against all those officials who had given clean chit to Pooja Singhal in February 2017 during the erstwhile Raghubar Das-led BJP government.

After the chief minister’s reaction, it is being expected that the state government will soon issue a notification on suspension of Pooja Singhal.

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