In connection with the probe into a Rs 8,000-crore money laundering racket involving two Delhi-based businessmen and a few political entities, the Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday arrested a chartered accountant.
The CA, Rajesh Kumar Agrawal, is also associated with some transactions involving a firm, allegedly linked to RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti, which is under scanner for suspected tax evasion, according to officials.
Agarwal has been arrested under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) late last evening, they said.
The officials claimed the CA was “not cooperating” in the probe and he will be subjected to sustained interrogation once they obtain his custody from a competent court here.
Agrawal was arrested for allegedly being instrumental in providing accommodation entries (illegal funds) to launder the money of businessmen brothers—Virendra Jain and Surendra Jain. The agency has, however, now expanded its probe and has brought all his dealings under scanner.
“Agrawal has played a pivotal role in the transactions between Jain brothers and Ms Jagat Projects Limited. He is also associated with some transactions involving Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited,” the agency said in a statement.
The firm Mishail, allegedly linked to Misa Bharti, who is also a member of Parliament, and close to two dozen entities linked to it are under scanner of the Income Tax Department in a Rs 1,000-crore dubious land deals case and the taxman had conducted multiple raids in this connection sometime back in and around the national capital.
The company Jagat Projects, it said, converted its unaccounted money to the tune of Rs 62.20 crore into “apparently legitimate transactions by way of share subscription through 26 shell companies controlled by Jain brothers.”
The CA, officials said, was allegedly involved in routing funds for the Jain brothers, arrested by the ED in a Rs 8,000 crore money laundering racket allegedly being run through shell firms, in March this year.
Agrawal would be questioned in detail about all such deals and people linked to him once the agency gets his custody. The probe has been enlarged and few political entities are under the scanner, an official said.
The Enforcement Directorate said the Jain brothers had been “maintaining” a ledger account in the name of Agrawal.
It claimed that Agrawal had undertaken illegal transaction worth “over Rs 39 crore in financial year 2009-10 alone.”
The ED had last week filed a charge sheet against the Jain brothers in a court here. It had also attached agricultural land worth Rs 1.12 crore belonging to them in Bhatti village in the National Capital Region.
With this, the total amount of property attached so far in the case amounts to Rs 65.82 crore.
The ED has identified at least 90 shell firms in this probe case.
Shell companies are firms set up with nominal paid-up capital, high reserves and surplus on account of receipt of high share premium, investment in unlisted companies and no dividend income or high amount of cash-in-hand.
The case emerged after the ED filed a criminal complaint in February this year under the PMLA.
It was based on a charge sheet filed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office against certain individuals and firms “for providing accommodation entries by accepting funds from their beneficiaries through mediators and converting the same into share premium transactions in the beneficiary company”.
The ED suspects the entire racket to be worth about Rs 8,000 crore of slush funds.
Meanwhile, latching onto the development, the BJP demanded that the Bihar government too take action against the shell companies operating in the state.
Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said Prasad and his family members should tell the people about their holdings and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to walk the talk on his ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards corruption.