Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hasan net widens to Puducherry LG, Maya secy

NEW DELHI: Investigation in the Hasan Ali case has reached a crucial stage with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) deciding to question Puducherry lieutenant governor Iqbal Singh and UP chief minister Mayawati's principal secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey in the $8 billion money-laundering probe. 

While summons were issued to Iqbal Singh on Friday, ED is likely to issue notice to Pandey in the next few days asking him to appear for questioning, sources said. 

Faced with Supreme Court's adverse observations on the probe into one of the country's biggestmoney laundering cases, the ED has brought important functionaries under the scanner. Hassan Ali and his associates, including Kolkata-based businessman Kashinath Tapuriah, both in ED custody, have been slapped with tax evasion penalty of Rs 70,000 crore. 

The decision to summon Iqbal Singh and Pandey was taken after a key Hassan Ali aide and a Congress functionary from Bihar, Amlendu Pandey, stated under oath that he had been in regular contact with both Singh and the UP CM's principal secretary. 

Mention of the UP CM's office in connection with Hassan Ali also came up in the Supreme Court on Friday when counsel for ED pointed out how the CM's office was taking undue interest in allegedly derailing the money-laundering investigation. 

ED informed the court that Jasvir Singh — a co-petitioner with "tainted" former IIT Kharagpur professor S K Dubey seeking inquiry against top agency officials — is a DIG-rank officer attached to the office of the CM's principal secretary. 

In an affidavit submitted to the court, ED director Arun Mathur and his senior officials S K Sahni and Prabhakant said they were never present in Kolkata on August 1, 2009 and therefore there was no question of taking any undue favour for their hotel stay from anybody, as alleged by petitioner Jasvir Singh. 

Amlendu Pandey was questioned by ED officials in Mumbai on Thursday. The ED is investigating Tapuriah's UP connection. Both Tapuriah and Pandey had allegedly accompanied Hassan Ali toSingapore to open bank accounts. 

Pandey's statements were video recorded and taken under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which is admissible as evidence in court. He was raided by ED sleuths in the last week of March for his association with Ali. Pandey is believed to have helped the Pune-based punter to obtain a passport from Patna under forged documents. 

The ED argued that there was an attempt to malign senior officials to derail the ongoing investigation in the Hassan Ali case which has reached a conclusive stage. ED director Mathur, in his affidavit, said his house was never searched by CBI when he was administrator, Daman. His deputy Balesh Kumar affirmed that he was cleared by vigilance/CVC and his name was on the panel before he was selected for special director in ED.

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