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Jharkhand illegal mining: ED seizes Rs 11.88 crore

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The Enforcement Directorate on Friday said it has seized Rs 11.88 crore of cash kept in bank accounts of Pankaj Mishra, the political representative of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, and others as part of a money laundering investigation into alleged illegal mining in the state.

The action comes after the federal agents raided at least 19 locations in Sahibganj, Barhet, Rajmahal, Mirza Chauki, and Barharwa of the state on July 8.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) then seized “incriminating” documents and Rs 5.34 crore “unaccounted” cash.

“Cash amounting to Rs 11.88 crore lying in 37 bank accounts belonging to Pankaj Mishra, Dahoo Yadav and their associates has been seized under the Prevention of Money laundering Act in the illegal mining case,” the agency said in a statement.

Five stone crushers that were being illegally operated and an equal number of “illegal firearm cartridges” have also been seized, it said.
“The evidences collected during the course of investigation including statements of various persons, digital evidences and documents revealed that the seized cash/bank balance is derived from illegal mining being rampantly done in Sahibganj area including the forest area,” the ED said.

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It said a trail of Rs 100 crore of proceeds of crime generated from alleged illegal mining has also been “unearthed” after these raids.
The federal agency in May raided IAS officer Pooja Singhal, her businessman husband and others as part of a money laundering investigation against them.

The 2000-batch officer, who was holding the charge of Jharkhand mining secretary, was suspended by the state government following her arrest by the ED.

Suman Kumar, a chartered accountant (CA) linked to her and her husband, was also arrested by the agency and a total cash of Rs 19.76 crore was seized by it then.

A charge sheet was filed against her and others by the agency before a special PMLA court in Ranchi this month.

“Evidences collected during the course of investigation (against Singhal and others), including those collected during the searches and statements of various persons, revealed that the major chunk of the seized cash was derived from illegal mining and it belonged to senior bureaucrats and politicians,” the ED said.

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