The Enforcement Directorate on Friday filed its first chargesheet against Rashtriya Janata Dal President Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife Rabri Devi and others in a case related to the alleged Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation scam, reported PTI. The chargesheet was filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act before a special court in New Delhi.
The chargesheet also names Yadav’s son and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, former Union minister Prem Chand Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta, a company Lara Projects (earlier known as Delight Marketing Private Limited), and 10 others.
The case relates to alleged irregularities in awarding a tender to a private company to develop and operate two railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2005, when Lalu Prasad was the Union Railways Minister.
The agency registered a criminal case against the accused under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on a First Information Report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in April. The CBI had also filed a chargesheet against Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife and son, and 11 others in the case in April.
The CBI had launched its own investigation in the hotel tender case in July last year, alleging that Yadav used his influence as railway minister to award a tender to a company called Sujata Hotels to develop and operate two railway hotels in Ranchi and Puri. In return, he allegedly received a three-acre plot, worth Rs 45 crore, through a benami company owned by the wife of an RJD MP.
The Enforcement Directorate is looking into the alleged “proceeds of crime” carried out by Yadav, his family, and other officials of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation. These proceeds were allegedly generated through shell companies, unidentified officials told PTI. In its chargesheet, the agency said Yadav and IRCTC officials allegedly misused their position to grant sub-lease of the rights of the two railway hotels to Ms Sujata Hotel Private Limited, which is owned by Vijay Kochhar and Vinay Kochhar.
In lieu of the sub-lease, 358 decimals of land (1 decimal is approximately equal to 1/100 acre) in Patna was transferred to Delight Marketing Company owned by Gupta’s family in February 2005 at a rate lower than the prevailing rates.
“The said company possessing valuable chunk of land gradually got transferred to Rabri Devi and her son Tejashwi by way of share purchase at nominal prices,” said the chargesheet. “The funds used to acquire the land had dubious origin and had been laundered through 151 group of companies belonging to PC Gupta by using an NBFC named Ms Abhishek Finance Company Limited.”
Later, Rabri Devi and Tejashwi Yadav bought the shares of Delight Marketing Company at rates lower than the prevailing market value. “It is noteworthy that the funds used for acquisition of shares by Rabri Devi are questionable and individuals from whom Tejashwi had purchased shares denied any knowledge of holding them,” said the chargesheet.
According to the Enforcement Directorate, it has attached assets worth over Rs 44 crore in the case till now.