The Enforcement Directorate today filed its first charge sheet against RJD chief Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and others in connection with the IRCTC hotels allotment money laundering case, officials said. The agency has also named Prasad’s son and former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, his party colleague PC Gupta and his wife Sarla Gupta, a firm Lara Projects and 10 others in the prosecution complaint (charge sheet) filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) before a special court here.
The agency said Prasad and IRCTC officials allegedly misused their position for granting sub-lease of the rights of two railway hotels at Puri and Ranchi to Ms Sujata Hotel Pvt. Ltd. owned by Kochhars. In lieu of the hotels sub-lease, 358 decimal of prime plot of land in Patna was transferred to Ms Delight Marketing Company Pvt Ltd (a company owned by family of P C Gupta who is a close associate of Prasad and an MP from RJD) in February 2005 at a rate which was much less than the then prevailing circle 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. “The funds used to acquire the land had dubious origin and had been laundered through 151 group of companies belonging to P C Gupta by using an NBFC named Ms Abhishek Finance Company Limited,” the agency charged.
Subsequently, the shares of Ms Delight Marketing Company Private Limited, it said, were acquired by Rabri Devi and Tejashwi at less than fair 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,” it said.
The ED said it has attached assets worth over Rs 44 crore in this case till now. The CBI too had filed a charge sheet in this case sometime back.
The CBI FIR had alleged that Lalu Prasad, during his tenure as the railway minister in UPA-I government, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company in 2004 after receiving a bribe in the form of a prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta, the wife of Prem Chand Gupta, who was also a former union minister.
The ED registered the criminal case against his family members and others under the PMLA, based on this CBI FIR. The ED is investigating the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, according to the officials.
Others named in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director P.K. Goel.
The CBI FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as “quid pro quo”.