Land for jobs scam: ED 'detects' Rs 600 crore in assets after raids on Lalu Prasad's family
The agency's raids resulted in the detection of ‘proceeds of crime’ worth Rs 600 crore — Rs 350 crore in immovable properties and Rs 250 crore in transactions — routed through various benamidaars.
NEW DELHI: The Directorate of Enforcement on Saturday said it had recovered assets worth over Rs 600 crore following a series of raids on RJD supremo and former UPA Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav's kin and associates in connection with a money laundering case linked to the railways land for jobs scam.
According to sources raids conducted on 24 locations including Delhi NCR, Patna, Mumbai and Ranchi in the scam led to the recovery of Rs 1 crore in cash, foreign currency including USD 1900, 540 grams of gold bullion and more than 1.5 kg of gold jewellery valued at Rs 1.25 crores approximately.
Several other documents including various property documents, sale deeds and related papers held in the names of family members and benamidaars indicating illegal accretion of huge land bank and electronic devices were also seized during the pan-India operation.
The searches on his family members included the premises of Lalu Yadav’s son and Bihar deputy CM Tejaswi Yadav and his daughters — Ragini Yadav, Hema Yadav, and Chanda Yadav. The premises of former RJD MLA Saye Abu Dojana — a close associate of Lalu Yadav — was raided by the ED who searched his office and residence in the Phulwarisharif area adjoining the Patna Airport.
According to sources, a four-storeyed bungalow, in South Delhi's New Friends Colony area, had been registered in the name of AB Exports Private Limited. The company is "owned and controlled" by Tejashwi Yadav and his family and this house was shown to have been acquired at a value of a mere Rs 4 lakh while the present market value of which is approximately Rs 150 crore.
During the searches, Tejaswi Prasad Yadav was found to be staying at this house and was found to be using this house as his residential property, the ED said.
The ED's action come close on the heels of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) questioning Lalu, his wife Rabri Devi and his daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti in connection with the corruption charges related to the alleged scam.
The central agency has already filed a chargesheet in the matter in 2022 October and further investigations are on. In the CBI chargesheet, Lalu’s daughter Misa and a former general manager of the Railways were also named as accused in the charge sheet filed before a special CBI court recently.
The preliminary enquiry into the matter was registered and initiated by the CBI on September 23, 2021, in connection to the alleged land-for-jobs scam in the Railways which was converted into an FIR on May 18, 2022. It is alleged that people were given employment in the railways in return for land parcels gifted or sold at cheap rates to the Yadav family and its associates during Prasad's tenure as the railway minister in the UPA government from 2004 to 2009.
Meanwhile, the PMLA investigation conducted by ED so far has revealed that several pieces of land at prominent locations in Patna and other areas were illegally acquired by the family of the then Rail Mantri, Lalu Prasad Yadav in lieu of jobs provided in Railways.
The agency claims, Individuals were allegedly appointed as substitutes in group D positions within three days of applying in "undue haste" by Railway officials and were later regularised when the "individuals themselves or their family members transferred their land."
The current market value of these land parcels is more than Rs 200 Crore. In this regard, several benamidars, shell entities and beneficial owners for these lands have been identified.
The ED investigation has found that four parcels of land had been acquired by the RJD chief's family for just Rs 7.5 Lakhs from poor Group-D applicants. These lands were sold to Dojana by Rabri Devi with huge gains at Rs 3.5 Crore in a collusive deal with a major portion of the amount received transferred to the account of Tejashwi.
Furthermore, the investigation revealed that over 50 per cent of recruited candidates across several Zonal Railways were from the constituencies of Lalu Prasad's families.
More raids are expected as part of the central agencies' investigation into the alleged scam.