In fresh trouble for RJD chief Lalu Prasad, the ED has registered a money laundering case against him and his family members in a railway hotels allotment corruption case dating back to the UPA tenure, officials said today. The case has been registered under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The central probe agency has taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate the move. Earlier this month, the CBI had registered a criminal FIR and conducted multiple searches against the former Bihar chief minister and others. The Enforcement Directorate will investigate the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, officials said.
Prasad’s wife and former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav, and others will be probed by the agency under charges filed in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR. The case dates back to the time when Lalu was the railway minister in the UPA government. 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 P K Goel. The CBI FIR alleges that Prasad, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta.
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The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as ‘quid pro quo’. The ED, under the PMLA, has powers to attach and confiscate tainted assets and it is expected that the agency will initiate such a move once it makes progress in the case.