Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Chandrashekar SrinivasanNew Delhi
The Jharkhand government has suspended state mining secretary Pooja Singhal after she was arrested Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case and sent to remand for five days. The state’s department of personnel, administrative reforms and ‘rajbhasha’ (official language) has issued a notice citing Singhal’s arrest under section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act as the reason for her suspension of it.
This comes after chief minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday said his government would take all ‘possible legal actions’ against Singhal following her arrest.
Singhal was arrested by the central agency in connection with the alleged embezzlement of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) funds from Khunti district.
She was questioned for two days before being held on Wednesday. Her husband, Abhishek Jha, who runs a super-specialty hospital, was also interrogated. The ED questioned the couple for nine hours on Tuesday and called Jha for interrogation again on Wednesday.
The 2000 batch IAS officer was produced before a special PMLA court in Ranchi, where the ED asked for 12 days remand.
The ED probe pertains to a money laundering case involving a former junior engineer of the Jharkhand government, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha, was held by the agency in June 2020.
He was booked under the PMLA in 2012 based on FIRs of the state surveillance bureau. The money allegedly embezzled was earmarked for the execution of government projects under MGNREGA in Khunti, the central agency said.
Singhal had served as the deputy commissioner of the district between 2009 and 2010. According to news agency PTI, Ram Binod Prasad Sinha said that he paid five per cent commission out of the defrauded funds to the Khunti administration.
Furthermore, the IAS officer’s arrest happened after the ED conducted raids at several locations in as many as four states in connection with the case on May 6. During the operation, the agency allegedly seized ₹17.49 crore from the residence of Suman Kumar – a chartered accountant – associated with Singhal and Jha.
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