A case was registered against former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda today by the Enforcement Directorate for alleged money laundering, diversion of state funds and making huge illegal investments abroad including purchase of mines in Liberia.
The 38-year-old Koda, who may face arrest also, is the first chief minister and high-profile politician to have been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) along with eight others including three of his cabinet colleagues.
The ED filed a Enforcement Case Information Report (equivalent to a FIR) before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Ranchi against Koda, his cabinet colleagues Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Bhandu Tirkey besides five others.
According to the ECIR, Koda is alleged to have purchased mines in Liberia worth USD 17 lakh (Rs 8.5 crore) besides making other 'benami' purchases in the name of his close confidant Binod Sinha, once a tractor mechanic.
As per the ECIR, the properties in the name of Sinha runs into several hundred crores of rupees.
One time close associate of RSS, Koda shot to fame after he clinched a political coupe with Congress' support by becoming chief minister of the mineral rich state in 2006 as an independent MLA, the third politician in the country to achieve this feat.
The ministers including Koda, Chief Minister between February 2006 and August 2008, have been accused of amassing properties worth hundreds of crores including those in places like UAE, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Liberia.
As per the declaration given by the three ministers individually, nobody had bank deposits more than Rs 1.9 lakh or immovable property worth over Rs 1.15 lakh.
The ED was looking into details of real wealth of the accused ministers and it will also attach all the properties identified. Under the PMLA, the onus of proof is on the accused rather than the agency.
Efforts to get in touch with Koda did not fructify as his mobile phone was switched off and no one answered phone calls at his residence.
Two other cabinet colleagues of Koda have already been booked by the ED for alleged money laundering, foreign exchange violations and forgery. The ED swung into action after Jharkhand vigilance department lodged a complaint and recently searched the homes of Hari Narayan Rai -- former town development and tourism minister -- and Enos Ekka -- rural development minister -- besides that of Koda.
ED officials claimed they had come across documents suggesting that the former ministers had amassed huge wealth including mines, real estate firms and properties in Hong Kong, Thailand and some other countries.
The vigilance court had then directed the department to file the charges when it heard a petition by Vinod Kumar, a resident of Jharkhand's Deoghar district.
Kamlesh Singh was Minister of Water Resources, Excise, Civil and Food Supplies Department while Shahi was the Minister of Health and Labour and Tirkey was in-charge of Human Resource Development and Sport and Culture Department.
New Delhi | Oct 09, 2009 / Outlook India