RANCHI: In the first money laundering conviction in the country, former Jharkhand Minister Hari Narayan Rai has been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 5 lakh by a special court here.
The maiden conviction, ordered yesterday by the court of Special Judge B K Tiwari, has come after the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was enforced 12 years ago and it saw Rai, former state Chief Minister Madhu Koda's cabinet colleague, being convicted for laundering funds to the tune of over Rs 3.72 crore.
The case pertains to the money-laundering probe involving Koda and others and was unearthed by the agency in September 2009 in which a number of arrests were made and assets worth hundreds of crores were attached.
"Rai, as Minister in the Jharkhand government, during the period 2005-08 laundered his illegal income through purchase and acquisition of various assets by misappropriation of public money and using the same for his personal benefits," the Enforcement Directorate said in a statement issued after the order of conviction.
Rai, elected as an MLA from the Jarmundi Assembly seat in Dumka district, held Cabinet portfolios like that of Tourism Development, Urban Development, Rural Works and Forests not only in the Koda cabinet but also in the government of former CM's like Arjun Munda and Shibu Soren.
"Rai has been pronounced guilty under section 3 (offence of money laundering) read with section 4 (punishment for money laundering) of the PMLA and has been sentenced to 7 years Rigorous Imprisonment, the maximum under the said Act, and has been additionally fined Rs 5 lakh. If the fine is not deposited, the order directed Rai to undergo another RI of 18 months. The court found him guilty for laundering proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 3,72,54,016," the agency said.
Calling it a "historic judgement", ED Director Karnal Singh told PTI that the agency will "continue its sustained action against money launderers as such entities work against the nation and the society."
"ED is committed to take action against the persons involved in money laundering," the ED chief added. A senior official said: "This is the first conviction under the PMLA in the country which was enacted in 2002 and implemented from 2005 in order to check and curb black money and grave financial crimes." The ED had taken over this case in September, 2009 after taking cognisance of Jharkhand Vigilance Bureau's FIRs in the case and had filed three charge sheets in the case since then.