Fifteen Years after Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) came into force and eight years after Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered its first case under the Act, a Ranchi special court has delivered the first ever conviction.
The Special PMLA Court in Ranchi on Monday delivered the judgment in connection with the Madhu Koda case. The court held guilty Hari Narayan Rai, a former minister in the cabinet of three former CMs of the state, for laundering Rs 3.7 crore earned through corrupt means. The minister has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, the maximum sentence available under PMLA.
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Absence of a conviction in its report card has been a major concern for ED. Last year on ED Day, Revenue Secretary Hansmukh Adhia had flagged the issue asking ED to get its act together. In reply, ED Director Karnal Singh had then said that ED cases were delayed because they were associated with influential people.
Rai was Minister of Department of Tourism Development, Urban Development, Rural, Forest & Environment, Jharkhand in the cabinet of former CMs Arjun Munda, Madhu Koda and Shibu Soren continuously from March 12, 2005 to December 19, 2008. During this period, ED claimed in its chargesheet, he laundered “the proceeds of crime to a tune of Rs. 3,72,54,016”.
According to ED, the Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau had lodged an FIR on November 26, 2008 on charges of corruption against former Chief Minister Madhu Koda and his then cabinet colleagues, including Rai. After thorough probe by ACB, a chargesheet was filed against Rai on October 5, 2009 for offences involving an amount of Rs 1.63 crore. Based on Vigilance Bureau case, the CBI also lodged an FIR on August 11, 2010 and filed a chargesheet for disproportionate assets amounting to Rs 1.46 crore against him on January 1, 2012.
Following the chargesheet by the Vigilance Bureau, ED took up investigation under PMLA on September 4, 2009. ED had claimed that Rai had purchased immovable properties, in his wife’s name, in the names of his relatives and in the names of his companies. He had also amassed movable assets in different bank accounts from the earnings generated by way of corruption, ED had alleged.
“The investigation revealed that Hari Narayan Rai, as a minister in the Jharkhand government, during the period 2005-08, acquired illegal income, by misappropriation of the public money and using the same for his personal benefits and laundered it through purchase and acquisition of various immovable and movable assets,” an ED statement said. “The chargesheet was filed by the ED in 2011 and the charges were also framed the same year,” said ED counsel S R Das. He added that, in this case, Rai was the only accused.
In December, a special CBI court had convicted Rai for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and sentenced him to five-year imprisonment.
— WITH INPUTS FROM RANCHI
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