New Delhi: Jharkhand IAS officer Pooja Singhal has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday in an alleged money laundering case. The Jharkhand mining secretary had appeared before the agency earlier in the day in Ranchi for questioning in connection with the money laundering case linked to embezzlement of MGNREGA funds and other charges, reported news agency ANI.
ED had summoned Singhal for questioning on Tuesday also which went on for nine hours, reported the news agency quoting sources. The 2000-batch Indian Administrative Services officer was briefly questioned by the agency on May 6 during raids that were conducted against her and her businessman husband Abhishek Jha and others in Jharkhand and a few other locations.
Ranchi | Enforcement Directorate arrests IAS Pooja Singhal in an alleged money laundering case
— ANI (@ANI)
The investigation by ED pertains to a money laundering case involving a former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha, who was arrested by the agency from West Bengal on June 17, 2020. He was arrested following an FIR that was registered against him by the agency under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2012 after studying the FIRs of the state vigilance bureau against him, news agency PTI had reported.
The money in question was earmarked for the execution of government projects under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in Khunti district. Sinha had told the ED that “he paid five per cent commission (out of the defrauded funds) to the district administration,” reported PTI.
During the same time the enforcement agency had alleged that charges of “irregularities” were made against Singhal who served as the deputy commissioner/district magistrate of Chatra, Khunti, and Palamu between 2007 and 2013.
On May 7, the agency had arrested chartered accountant Suman Kumar in connection with the case after cash worth over Rs 17 crore were seized from his premises and his alleged links with the IAS officer and his husband is also being probed. ED, in a remand note produced to the court for Kumar had claimed that the mining officer and her husband allegedly received “huge” cash deposits — to the tune of Rs 1.43 crore — over and above her salary in their accounts, during the period she faced charges of irregularities while being posted as the DM of various districts in the state.