ED attaches Rs 10 lakh in probe against Gujarat IAS officer

ED attaches Rs 10 lakh in probe against Gujarat IAS officer

 The ED today attached Rs 10 lakh in connection with its money laundering probe against a former IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, Pradeep Sharma.

The 1984-batch officer was arrested by the central probe agency in July last year. The Enforcement Directorate had filed a criminal case against Sharma and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on an FIR of the Gujarat CID.

The case pertains to the sanction of government land in Bhuj for industrial use to Ms Welspun India Limited, and its group companies, Welspun Power and Steel and Welspun Gujarat Style Roharan, in 2004 when Sharma was the district collector and chairman of the District Land Evaluation and Pricing Committee.

The agency, in a statement, said during the course of investigation it was revealed that in 2008-2009, Rs 22 lakh were transferred from the account of Ms Value Packaging to the NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary) account of Sharma's wife.

"Out of the Rs 22 lakh, an amount of Rs 10 lakh was further transferred to the NRO account of Shvetang Chinubhai Dewashrayee, brother-in-law of Sharma, who is a US citizen.

"These Rs 22 lakh are the proceeds of crime generated as a result of criminal activity related to the offence registered against Sharma and from this fund, an amount of Rs 10 lakh has been layered and integrated into the account of his relative and projected as untainted. Therefore, the same has been provisionally attached," it said.

The central agency had earlier said that Sharma had allegedly "sanctioned huge land at cheaper price to Ms Welspun India Limited and its sister concerns Ms Welspun Gujarat Stahi Rohren, Ms Welspun Power and Steel company by manipulative acts in gross violation of norms, instructions and guidelines as laid down by the state government of Gujarat".

Through this allotment, Sharma, in connivance with some others "has allegedly caused financial losses to the state government to the tune of Rs 1.20 crore (approx)", the agency had said.

"Against this favour, he (Sharma) received gain to the tune of Rs 22 lakh in the name of his wife Shyamal P Sharma within a short period of 15 months by just investing Rs 1 lakh (in January 2008) in one Ms Value Packaging," the ED probe report had said.

The ED had invoked PMLA alleging that the money was first deposited in his wife's overseas bank account and then transferred to his account in violation of the Act.

Sharma was also arrested by the Gujarat Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in September 2014 in connection with a corruption case when he was the Bhavnagar municipal commissioner.

He had also approached the Supreme Court in 2013 seeking cognisance of audio tapes related to alleged illegal snooping of a young woman architect under the then Narendra Modi government in the state. The ED had filed a charge-sheet in this case last year and had earlier attached assets worth Rs 1.09 crore.

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