Ahead of next month’s assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday attached assets worth Rs 5.6 crores against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in connection with a money laundering case. ED said that the assets, both movable and immovable, are in the name of the Chief Minister’s son Vikramaditya Singh, daughter Aprajita Singh and wife Pratibha Singh.
“This order attaches Rs 4.2 crore from a portion of farmhouse at Dera Mandi in Delhi in the name of Ms Tarini International and fixed assets of Ms Tarini Infra Damanganga project at Vapi in Gujarat. “Also, shares worth Rs 64 lakh in the name of Vikramaditya Singh and Aprajita Singh and fixed deposits to the tune of Rs 20 lakh in bank account of Aprajita Singh (have been attached),” the agency said in a statement.
It added that since the shares of Ms Tarini Infra were transferred by Pratibha Singh to daughter of Vakamulla Chandrashekar for a consideration of Rs 60 lakh, the same “also stands attached” from the FD of Pratibha Singh with various bank accounts at Delhi and Shimla. The agency had earlier said that Chandrashekar is the promoter/director of Tarini Group of Companies, which is engaged in hydro power projects in Himachal Pradesh, thereby alleging a quid pro quo between the two parties. The probe agency said during investigations into the “trail of funds passing through Chandershekhar, it was revealed that an amount of Rs 5.9 crore was given by him to Virbhadra Singh and his family members through his three personal bank accounts”.
“When the source of funds was enquired into, it came to light that the said amount was received through web of firms indulging in accommodation entry operation,” the ED alleged. Also, the probe found these alleged shell firms were ‘opened in the name of employees with meagre salary primarily for providing accommodation entries and the addresses of the firms were fake.’
Earlier in March, a chargesheet was filed by the CBI when the Delhi high court refused to quash the FIR lodged against the chief minister and his wife for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to their assets. With the latest order, the ED said, a total of Rs 40 crore (market value) assets have been attached by it in this case till now.
In September 2015, a case was registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Himachal Pradesh CM after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by the Central Bureau Of Investigation (CBI).
The latest development come at a time when the state is gearing up for the polls. On Thursday, the Election Commission had announced November 9 as the day of voting in Himachal Pradesh. The poll results shall be announced on December 18.