Jharkhand: Mining secretary Pooja Singhal questioned for nine hours in money laundering case, will again appear before ED today

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had summoned Jharkhand’s Mining Secretary Pooja Singhal to record her statement on Tuesday. She along with her husband appeared before the ED here in connection with the probe into the money laundering case and other allegations related to alleged misappropriation of MGNREGA funds in Khunti. The ED questioned Pooja Singhal for nearly nine hours on Tuesday. This information was provided by officers.

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Singhal has been asked to appear again for the next round of questioning on Wednesday. The ED recorded the statement of Singhal, a 2000 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Officials said the statement of Singhal’s businessman husband Abhishek Jha was also recorded.

The couple reached the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in Hinoo area on Airport Road at around 11 am and left at around 8 pm. The ED has conducted inquiries against the bureaucrat, her husband, entities linked to her and others after raids on May 6 in Jharkhand and some other places.

Officials said the agency has also seized four SUVs – a Jaguar, a Fortuner and two Honda brand cars – which were in the name of CA Suman Kumar, arrested under the Anti-Money Laundering Act or persons connected with him.

The ED office witnessed a lot of busyness during the day-long interrogation. During this, some cars with some boxes were seen entering the agency building, while several media persons were standing outside.

The case against Singhal and others pertains to money laundering, in which Ram Vinod Sinha, a former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government, was arrested by the ED on June 17, 2020, from West Bengal. Prior to that, a case under PMLA was registered by the agency in 2012 after going through the FIR of the State Vigilance Bureau against him.

Sinha was booked under criminal sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to cheating and corruption. He is accused of working as a junior engineer from April 1, 2008 to March 21, 2011, for allegedly duping public money and investing it in his own name as well as that of his family members.

The agency had earlier said that the said funds were earmarked for execution of government projects under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) in Khunti district. Sinha told the ED that “he has paid five per cent commission (out of fraud) to the district administration.”