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ED summons Jharkhand minister Alamgir Alam for questioning after massive cash seizure

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Jharkhand Alamgir Alam's personal secretary Sanjiv Lal

Jharkhand Rural Development Minister and Congress leader Alamgir Alam

Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Jharkhand Rural Development Minister and Congress leader Alamgir Alam for questioning in a money laundering case on May 14, official sources said Sunday.

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The federal agency had last week arrested Alam's personal secretary and state administrative service officer Sanjeev Kumar Lal (52) and the latter's domestic help Jahangir Alam (42) following the seizure of more than Rs 32 crore cash from a flat linked to them.

Alam, 70, has been asked to depose at the zonal office of the ED in Ranchi on Tuesday for recording his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.

The money laundering investigation pertains to alleged irregularities and payment of "bribes" in the state rural development department.

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The agency had informed a special PMLA court here, while seeking the remand of the two arrested persons, that Lal collected "commission" on behalf of some influential people and government officials from "top to bottom" in the rural department are involved in the alleged illegal cash payments nexus.

The total seizure of cash by the ED in this case has been recorded at around Rs 36.75 crore as the agency seized about Rs 3 crore from other locations including Rs 10.05 lakh from Lal's place apart from Rs 1.5 crore cash from a contractor's place last Tuesday.

Alamgir Alam had distanced himself from the activities of Lal while speaking to reporters after the ED raids, pointing out that he had earlier served with other ministers of the state government too.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his election campaign speeches in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh last week, had mentioned the seizure of "mounds of cash". The opposition parties had claimed the ED action was part of the campaign by the Centre to target their leaders.

The ED said that the names of "senior bureaucrats and politicians" have emerged in the case and this was being investigated.

It had conducted searches at the rural development ministry in Ranchi too with Lal accompanying ED officials.

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The money laundering case of September 2020 is based on an anti-corruption branch (Jamshedpur) case of Jharkhand Police and a March 2023 FIR filed by the economic offences wing of the Delhi Police against former chief engineer of the state rural works department Veerendra Kumar Ram and some others.

Ram was arrested by the ED last year.

Ram, the ED claimed, used to "collect commissions" in terms of allocation of tender and execution of work and this commission of 1.5 per cent was "distributed" among his seniors and politicians.

It was alleged by the ED before the court that one such commission was handed over by Ram to Lal in September 2022.

The agency has arrested former chief minister and JMM leader Hemant Soren, IAS officers Chhavi Ranjan and Pooja Singhal apart from other politically linked persons over the last 2-3 years as part of various money laundering investigations being conducted by it in the state.

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