Tejaswi Yadav, the son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, today appeared before the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money laundering probe in the railway hotels allotment corruption case, officials today said. The former Bihar deputy chief minister arrived at the central probe agency’s office here where it is expected that the investigating officer of the case will record his statement, they said. It had registered a criminal case against the Lalu Prasad family members and others under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), sometime back. The ED had earlier questioned few people in this case including the wife of former UPA Minister P C Gupta. Tejashwi’s mother and former state chief minister Rabri Devi has been summoned to appear before the ED tomorrow. The agency had taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate its own criminal complaint.
In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a criminal FIR (first information report) and conducted multiple searches against former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and others. The ED will investigate the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, officials had said. Rabri Devi, 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. The FIR was registered on 5 July 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.