NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's wife Pratibha on Tuesday in connection with a money laundering case against her and her husband.
“She was questioned for seven hours at the agency’s headquarter and gave elusive answers,” said a senior ED officer adding that she will be called for questioning again. The investigating officer recorded her statement in Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) registered against her and her husband.
The agency had issued summons twice to appear before the Investigating Officer of the case but she failed to appear citing personal reasons. It was only after the agency had told the Delhi High Court on Monday that they have no intention as of now to arrest Pratibha, she joined the probe.
She had moved the High Court seeking protection from arrest by the agency till next hearing of the said case on August 24.
Sources said that the questioning of the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister’s wife was essential to thoroughly probe the case after some revelations in this regard were made by LIC agent Anand Chauhan, who was arrested by the agency last month in the said case.
The agency has attached assets worth about Rs 8 crore against the Chief Minister earlier this year.
According to and ED officer Virbhadra is accused of amassing an unexplained Rs 6.3 crore when he was Union steel minister between 2009 and 2012, before having to resign amid corruption charges. “He is suspected to have granted favours to some business companies in return for unsecured loans obtained from private companies in the name of his wife and children,” the official said.
Last year, the agency had raided a dozen premises of business entities in Delhi, Mumbai and Calcutta that had allegedly received funds from Singh’s associates who are also suspects in the case.
The agency has registered a case for using bogus companies to divert money and has booked him under various sections of e Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. A top ED officer said that they have booked him, his wife and others involved into the money laundering.
The agency has filed enforcement case investigation report, which is equivalent to FIR, on the basis of disproportionate assets case registered against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and his wife by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In September end, CBI had registered a case of disproportionate assets and raided his residences in Shimla and Delhi and 11 other places. Besides Singh and wife, the CBI has also named a businessman Chunni Lal Chauhan and a LIC agent Anand Chauhan as accused in the case registered under Prevention of Corruption Act.
In the meantime, the judicial custody of LIC agent Anand Chauhan, was extended till August 22 by a special court in Delhi on Tuesday.
Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar extended Chauhan's custody after ED submitted that the case was still being probed and his custody should be extended.