Jharkhand minister's secretary collected commission for 'influential people': ED

The central agency on Monday arrested Sanjeev Kumar Lal, 52, and his domestic help Jahangir Alam, 42, following searches that led to the seizure Rs 32.20 crore cash.
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 11:45 IST
Last Updated : 07 May 2024, 11:45 IST

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Ranchi: Jharkhand Minister Alamgir Alam's secretary collected commission on tenders on behalf of "some influential people", the Enforcement Directorate told a court here on Tuesday, also claiming that officials of his rural development department, from "top to bottom", were involved in an alleged illegal cash payment nexus.

The central agency on Monday arrested Sanjeev Kumar Lal, 52, and his domestic help Jahangir Alam, 42, following searches that led to the seizure Rs 32.20 crore cash from a flat in the Jharkhand capital where the latter was residing.

Lal, the secretary of rural development minister and Congress leader Alamgir Alam, and Jahangir Alam were produced before the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court of Prabhat Kumar Sharma here. The court sent them to six days of ED custody.

The seizure was made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as part of a money laundering investigation linked to the rural development department.

The total seizure of cash by the ED in the case has been recorded at around Rs 36.75 crore as the agency seized about Rs 3 crore from another location that included Rs 10.05 lakh from Lal's place. Rs 1.50 crore was also seized from a contractor's premises on Tuesday.

Alamgir Alam, 70, has distanced himself from the activities of Lal. Talking to reporters here on Monday the minister said Lal had earlier served with other ministers of the state government too.

During the BJP's poll campaign in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speeches has also mentioned about the cash seizure. Opposition parties have, however, claimed that the ED action was an assault against its leaders.

In its remand papers submitted in court to seek the custody of Lal and Jahangir Alam for interrogation, the ED said, "It is ascertained that Sanjeev Lal takes care of the collection of commission on behalf of some influential persons and plays a pivotal role in managing the tenders and collection of commission from engineers, also the said percentage of commission is distributed in a mechanised manner to higher-ups of the government." Names of "senior bureaucrats and politicians" have emerged in the case and this is being investigated, the agency said.

"It is submitted that several officials, from top to bottom, of the rural development department are involved in this nexus and huge payments were usually received in cash which were later laundered which needs to be unearthed," the ED said.

The ED sought their custody from the court, saying that they were "deliberately withholding" information regarding the source of funds seized from them.

Their custody is also required to investigate the role of other beneficiaries, including senior government functionaries who "abused" their position and "acquired" the proceeds of crime through the two in respect of allocation of tender, the agency said.

The agency said Jahangir Alam was "in the possession" of the proceeds of crime "on the instructions" of Lal which he collected on behalf of "some influential persons".

It claimed that the Lal and Jahangir Alam acquired illicit money through "criminal activity and concealed the said cash at different places".

Two vehicles, the ED told the court, registered in the name of Jahangir Alam were found on the premises that it raided on Monday. These were found to be "under the use" of Lal, it said.

The ED claimed that Jahangir Alam said in his statement to it that one of these vehicles was 'funded' by Lal. This "clearly establishes" their nexus, it added.

The money laundering case of September 2020 is based on a Jharkhand Police anti-corruption branch (Jamshedpur) case and a March 2023 FIR filed by the economic offences wing of the Delhi Police against former chief engineer of the state rural works department Veerendra Kumar Ram and some others.

Ram was arrested by the ED last year.

The former chief engineer was with the water resource department of the Jharkhand government and was sent on deputation to the rural development and works department (special division).

Ram, according to the ED, used to "collect commissions" in terms of allocation of tender and execution of work and the said commission of 1.5 per cent was "distributed" among his seniors and politicians.

It was alleged by the ED before the court that one such commission was handed over by Ram to Lal in September 2022.

Published 07 May 2024, 11:45 IST

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