New Delhi/Patna: The noose tightened around the Yadav clan on Friday with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filing chargesheet against RJD chief Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and others in connection with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) hotels allotment and money laundering case, and the Jharkhand high court refusing to extend the RJD chief’s bail.
Denying the RJD chief’s three months bail extension request on medical grounds, the Jharkhand court asked Lalu Prasad to surrender in jail by August 30.
Lalu Prasad, involving the embezzlement of government funds in Bihar when he was chief minister of Bihar, is currently in a hospital in Mumbai.
In its chargesheet in the case that dates back to 2006, when Lalu Yadav was Union railway minister in the UPA government, ED has also named Lalu Prasad’s son and former Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, his party colleague P.C. Gupta and wife Sarla Gupta, a firm Lara Projects and 10 others in the chargesheet filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act
(PMLA) before a special court.The ED in its chargesheet has alleged that Lalu Prasad handed over the maintenance of two hotels run by IRCTC, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, in Ranchi and Puri, to Sujata Hotel, a company owned by Vinay and Vijay Kochhar, in return for a prime plot of three acres in Patna through a benami company.
The agency further alleged that as railway minister, the RJD leader abused his official position to extend undue favours to the Kochhars and acquired a “high value premium land” through a benami firm, Delight Marketing Company. As quid pro quo, he “dishonestly and fraudulently” gave them the lease of two hotels.
The valuable chunk of land gradually got transferred to Rabri Devi and Tejashwi by way of purchase of shares of Delight Marketing Company Private Limited at nominal prices, the agency has said, and added that even the funds used to acquire the land had dubious origin. “They and had been laundered through 151 group of companies belonging to P.C. Gupta”.
“It is noteworthy that the funds used for acquisition of shares by Rabri Devi are questionable and individuals from whom Tejashwi had purchased shares denied any knowledge of holding them,” said the ED in its chargesheet. The agency further said it has attached assets worth over Rs 44 crore in this case till now.
The CBI too had filed a chargesheet in this case sometime back. The CBI’s FIR had alleged that during his tenure as railway minister in the UPA-I government, Lalu Prasad had handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company in 2004 after receiving a bribe in the form of a prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta, the wife of Prem Chand Gupta, who was also a former union minister.
The ED registered the criminal case against Lalu Prasad, his family members and others under the PMLA. The ED is investigating the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, according to sources.
Others named in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director PK Goel. The CBI had registered the FIR on July 5.