The Income Tax department on Saturday conducted country-wide searches on nearly 60 properties allegedly owned by former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and claimed to have found evidence of “unaccounted” money transactions during his tenure.
The searches, which began at 9:30 a.m., were carried out after the Enforcement Directorate registered a case against 38-year-old Mr. Koda for alleged money laundering and diversion of State funds.
“It appears there were unaccounted money transactions when Mr. Koda was mines minister during the Arjun Munda government and subsequently during (his) chief ministership,” I.T. Director of Investigation Ujjwal Choudhary told reporters in Ranchi after raids on the premises of Mr. Koda and his alleged associates Sanjay Choudhary and Binod Sinha.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered the case on October 9 against Mr. Koda and three of his ministerial colleagues on charges of making huge illegal investments abroad, including purchase of mines as far as in Liberia. Mr. Koda was chief minister between February 2006 and August 2008.
The searches were being conducted by at least 70 teams comprising 400 IT sleuths and assisted by ED men on the properties located in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow, Nasik, Ranchi, Chaibasa and Jamshedpur, officials said.
The raids were launched on the basis of the IT’s own intelligence inputs, Mr. Choudhary said.
Mr. Koda, who may also face arrest, is the first former chief minister and high-profile politician to have been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Currently an independent member of the Lok Sabha, Mr. Koda held the mines portfolio twice in two governments led by Mr. Munda between 2003 and 2006. He shot into fame after he clinched a political coup with Congress support by becoming chief minister of the state in 2006 as an independent MLA.
The ED had filed an Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), which is equivalent to an FIR, before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Ranchi against Koda and three of his cabinet colleagues — Kamlesh Singh, Bhanu Pratap Shahi and Bhandu Tirkey — besides five other persons.
According to the ECIR, Mr. 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 property in the name of Sinha runs into several hundred crores of rupees.
Mr. Koda and eight others have been accused of amassing property worth hundreds of crores of rupees including those in places like UAE, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Liberia.
The ED swung into action after Jharkhand vigilance department lodged a complaint and searched the homes of Koda, and Hari Narayan Rai and Enos Ekka, both former ministers.
ED officials claimed they had come across documents suggesting that the former ministers had amassed huge wealth including mines, real estate firms and property also in Hong Kong.