The Enforcement Directorate has attached cash worth Rs 89.68 lakh in a money-laundering case involving the nephew of Congress leader and former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, days before elections to the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat where Bansal is a candidate.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ED said it had issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to freeze the “bribe” money, which according to the agency was “proceeds of crime”.
The cash was allegedly seized by the CBI from the office of Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla in 2013 in a bribery case related to appointments in top positions in the railways.
In 2013, the CBI had arrested Singla for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 90 lakh in return for manipulating a posting for then Railway Board member Mahesh Kumar. Bansal had to resign as railway minister a month after the controversy.
The ED had filed a separate criminal case based on the CBI’s FIR and issued a chargesheet against Kumar, Singla and seven others.
The ED said the CBI investigation had revealed that Mahesh Kumar, a 1975-batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers, was posted as general manager, Western Railway, and wanted to get himself appointed as member (electrical) of the Railway Board instead of member (staff).
“For this, he was in touch with N. Manjunath who was further in touch with Sandeep Goyal, a friend of Singla. Singla demanded Rs 10 crore through Sandeep Goyal from N. Manjunath to get Mahesh Kumar posted as member (electrical),” the ED said, referring to the CBI probe.
While a token amount was being delivered to Singla and Goyal, the CBI team raided Singla’s office at Sector 28 in Chandigarh and seized Rs 89,68,000, the ED said.
“It is revealed that N. Manjunath, on behalf of Mahesh Kumar, was persuading various railway vendors, manufactures/contractors for making arrangement of bribe amount for promotion of Mahesh Kumar as member (electrical) by alluring them that all the contributors would be taken care of/benefited from the desired posting of Mahesh Kumar,” the ED statement said.
The investigation revealed that the first instalment of the bribe was “contributed” by Manjunath, M.V. Murli Krishna, Sushil Daga and Venketeshwara Rail Nirman Pvt Ltd.
The amount was routed through the accounts of various companies and individuals and with the assistance of hawala agents, the ED said, adding that the probe was underway.