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ED seizes Rs 19.3 crore in raids on Jharkhand officials linked to MGNREGA fraud

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized Rs 19.3 crore in hard cash in raids carried out at multiple locations in connection with the Jharkhand MGNREGA funds fraud case and mining scam.

The residence of senior IAS officer Pooja Singhal, who is the mining secretary of the state, was also raided in Ranchi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The officials said the action had been taken as part of its investigation into a case linked to alleged embezzlement of over Rs 18 crore MGNREGA funds in Khunti district of Jharkhand during 2008-11 when Pooja Singhal, a 2000 batch IAS officer,  was posted as deputy commissioner there.

About Rs 17.51 crore cash had been recovered from the premises of a Ranchi-based chartered accountant who is considered close to Singhal and political leaders of the state, officials said. About Rs 1.8 crore cash has been recovered from other premises in Ranchi.

The searches were conducted at 18 premises in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi, Punjab and a few other states, the officials said, adding that the premises of Singhal, an IAS officer of 2000 batch in Ranchi, are also being covered as part of the action. The raids pertain to a money laundering case in which former junior engineer in the Jharkhand government Ram Binod Prasad Sinha was arrested on June 17, 2020, from West Bengal by the ED.

The ED took cognisance of 16 FIRs and chargesheets filed by the Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau against Sinha that alleged the accused abused his official position and indulged in embezzlement of Rs 18.06 crore of government funds through forgery and misappropriation.

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