The Enforcement Directorate has attached assets worth Rs 36 crore of a Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer in connection with its money laundering probe against him and others.
The agency said it has issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and attached properties of Babulal Agrawal, a Principal Secretary rank officer of the state, and Ms Prime Ispat Limited in Raipur. The ED had registered a money laundering case against him based on a 2010 CBI FIR on charges of alleged disproportionate assets amassed by the bureaucrat.
It has attached 70.78 acres of land worth Rs 4.40 crore, plant and machinery valued at Rs 23.89 crore, factory building worth Rs 7.07 crore and a Innova car belonging to Ms Prime Ispat Limited. “Also, attached are a residential house of area 2,482 sq ft worth Rs 55 lakh and a plot of land of area 4,391 sq feet worth Rs 4.61 lakh belonging to Agrawal are attached,” it said.
The agency, in a statement, said the modus operandi adopted by Agrawal “to launder the tainted money earned by him was to open large number of accounts in the names of unsuspecting villagers and then cash deposits were deposited in the said accounts.”
Further, these deposits were “channelised into shell companies” as share application money and thereafter the shell companies invested the said tainted money as equity at a large premium in Ms Prime Ispat Ltd, a company owned by brothers of Agrawal, it added.
“During the period 2006-08, Agrawal with the help of Sunil Agrawal, Chartered Accountant opened 446 benami bank accounts in the names of unsuspecting villagers of Kharora and nearby villages with Union Bank of India, Pandri branch and Ramsagarpara branch, Raipur.
“With the active connivance of the bank officials, they opened the said bank accounts even though none of the account holders did come to the bank in person before the bank officials for verification of their signatures and flouted all KYC norms. “During the investigation, the benami account holders who were drivers, mason, paan vendors, farm labourers, carpenters, milk vendors etc flatly denied having opened or operated the said bank accounts,” it said.
Agrawal was arrested by the CBI in February. It is alleged that Agrawal, an IAS officer of 1988 batch, wanted to “settle” CBI probes against him which were registered in 2010 when he was the Health Secretary in the state government.