They have begun doing so after getting an approval order on April 6 from the Adjudicating Authority for cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) - a finance ministry body. The properties- land and apartments- are located in Jharkhand, Bihar and Maharashtra have a registry value of around Rs. 130 crores according to 2007 revenue department valuations, say Directorate sources.
“This is the largest attachment made under the PMLA from any politician,” said a senior official, “You can expect another couple of orders, but this will take at least a month’s time as we are busy with 2G cases.” The total value of the properties identified may go up to Rs. 300 crores.
Many companies, including Rohitas Krishnan’s Quantum Powertech, Ranchi and Manohar Lal Pal’s Smridhi Sponge Limited, Jamshedpur, have also been attached.
While Krishnan was arrested by the CBI for money laundering last year, Pal and former Jharkhand CM Shibu Soren’s son Mrinal were questioned in February by the Directorate in Delhi.
Krishnan is also allegedly involved in Jharkhand’s rural electrification scam along with Binod, who was arrested by the CBI in Delhi last October. On April 1, the Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau revealed that Binod and Krishnan had given Koda Rs. 90 lakhs to fight the 2009 parliamentary polls.
Other companies on the list also include Kolkata- based Lacky Projects, IAG Co. and Shivans Steel, Jamshedpur-based Kolhan Trading, India Cars and Motors, Emmar Alloys and Ranchi’s Khalari Cements.
“While the companies will be allowed to function, to protect the livelihoods of their employees, they cannot be disposed off, altered or destroyed,” a Directorate source said.
He added that they would need the assistance of Jharkhand’s government, district officials and police to attach the properties, but assured that the directorate would lose no time in doing so. “We are also examining if there are properties under benami ownership, in which case they also will be attached. Investigations are still on.”
Directorate sources suspect they have not got “fair assistance” from other investigating agencies like the Jharkhand Police.
He added that this has been a “quite a tough case” as many of the defendants, like Sanjay Choudhary, Dhananjay Choudhary, Indonesia-based Anil Vastavade and Pune-based businessman Ajay Bafna are at large and have non- bailable warrants on their heads.
“Binod could only be examined by November. Until then he has managed to continue his secret proceeds of crime and he may have destroyed incriminating documents,” the official added.
The Directorate had on March 4 filed a charge sheet at a special court in Ranchi against Koda, Binod, Vikas, Manoj Punamiya and hawala trader Arvind Vyas. Mumbai based precious-metal trader Punamiya’s revelations, under interrogation in Delhi last month, are said to be critical to the case.
The directorate is awaiting replies to its Letters Rogatories (LRs) sent to countries like Dubai, Sweden, Thailand, Indonesia and Liberia to probe illegal investments.
Koda and his associates are being probed by the Income Tax department, the CBI and Jharkhand Vigilance for a range of financial crimes.