ED files chargesheet against Hooda, 4 retd IAS officers for money laundering

Hooda termed the case as politically motivated.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed a chargesheet against 22 accused, including former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, four retired IAS officers and some others, in a money-laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the allocation of 14 industrial plots worth more than Rs 30 crore in Panchkula in 2013.

The central agency has claimed that “worthy applicants were driven out of merit and applicants who were closely connected to Hooda, in terms of his personal capacity and also in terms of the political party he belongs to, were allotted these plots”.

The Haryana Vigilance Bureau had registered an FIR in 2015 to probe the alleged irregularities. Later, the case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation following which the CBI and the ED registered their respective cases.

Hooda termed the case as politically motivated. “It is an old case that has been going on since long. It is nothing but a politically motivated case. We will contest it in the court. The matter is sub-judice. I would not like to comment any more on it,” Hooda told The Indian Express when reached for comments.

The agency, in the chargesheet, has named Hooda, retired IAS officers Dharam Pal Singh Nagal (the then chief administrator of the Haryana Urban Development Authority or HUDA), Surjit Singh (the then administrator of HUDA), Subhash Chandra Kansal (former chief controller of finance, HUDA), Narinder Kumar Solanki (former zonal administrator, Faridabad zone of HUDA), besides Bharat Bhushan Taneja (the then superintendent, HUDA) and all the 14 allottees and beneficiaries of the industrial plots.

“The prosecution complaint has been filed under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 before a special court in Panchkula,” the ED said in a statement.

It said the probe found that as “a result of a criminal conspiracy, the then chief minister of Haryana and ex-officio chairman of HUDA (Hooda), the retired IAS officers and other office-bearers of HUDA in Panchkula illegally benefitted pre-selected acquaintances of the then state CM by allotting them 14 industrial plots and denying allotment to more worthy applicants”.

“All the 14 allottees and beneficiaries of the industrial plots have been involved in the commission of the offence of money laundering,” the agency added.

The plots are located in Panchkula and the allocation took place in 2013. “All 14 industrial plots stand attached as per the provisions of PMLA, 2002 by the ED in August 2019 and the attachment was confirmed by the PMLA Adjudicating Authority in February 2020,” the statement read.

It was found during the ED’s probe “that the price fixed for the subject allotment were kept four-five times below the circle rate and seven-eight times (higher than) the market rate”.

“The criteria for allotment was altered 18 days after the last date of application and when all the applicant data was in the possession of HUDA. The criteria was altered in such a way to favour the pre–selected applicants by increasing the discretion at the hands of the interview committee. The entire interview process was vitiated and compromised as no formal record of marks allocation was kept,” the ED further said.

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