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Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh Questioned By ED For Over 9 Hours In Money Laundering Case

Singh, who arrived at the agency's office in his official car with a covered beacon at about 12 noon, left the premises at about 9:20 PM.

21/04/2017 10:40 AM IST | Updated 21/04/2017 10:50 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NEW DELHI -- Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was on Thursday questioned for over nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) here in connection with a money laundering case registered against him and others.

Singh, who arrived at the agency's office in his official car with a covered beacon at about 12 noon, left the premises at about 9:20 PM.

Official sources said the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case recorded the chief minister's statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The IO is also understood to have confronted him with some documents the agency had seized and recovered in this case of alleged disproportionate assets.

They said dozens of questions were put to Singh and he is likely to be summoned again.

Earlier, when the chief minister arrived at the ED office, sporting his trademark 'Himachali cap', he did not interact with mediapersons on the spot but was seen raising his fist in the air and heard reciting some lines of a patriotic poem: "Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hain, dekhna hai zor kitna bazu e qaatil mein hai (The desire to make a sacrifice is in our hearts, let us see what strength there is in the arms of our executioner)."

The chief minister had last week sent a communication to the agency stating his reasons for not being able to appear before it all this while and had sought a new date from it, after which the new summons was issued for today.

The ED had on Wednesday refused to give any assurance in the Delhi High Court that it will not arrest Singh when he appears before it.

The submission was made before Justice R K Gauba by the ED during the hearing of Singh's plea for quashing of the money laundering proceedings against him.

The ED summons has come close on the heels of filing of a charge sheet by the CBI against Singh, his wife and others for allegedly amassing assets worth around ₹10 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The ED has already questioned his wife Pratibha and son Vikramaditya in connection with the case.

It had filed a case under the anti-money laundering law against the Himachal Pradesh chief minister, his family members and others after taking cognisance of a complaint filed by the CBI in September 2015.

The agency is probing allegations against Singh and his family members of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income between 2009 and 2011 when he was the Union Minister of Steel. It has also attached assets worth about ₹14 crore in the case.

The CBI charge sheet alleged that Singh had amassed assets worth around ₹10 crore which were disproportionate by 192 percent of his total income during his tenure as the Union minister.

The final report was filed against nine persons for alleged offences punishable under section 109 (abetment) and 465 (punishment for forgery) of the IPC and relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, arrayed around 225 witnesses and 442 documents.

Besides the 82-year-old Congress leader and his wife Pratibha Singh, the report also arraigned Chunni Lal Chauhan, Joginder Singh Ghalta, Prem Raj, Vakamulla Chandrasekhar, Lawan Kumar Roach and Ram Prakash Bhatia as accused.

It also named as accused LIC agent Anand Chauhan, who is currently in judicial custody.

Chauhan was arrested by the ED on 9 July last year in this money laundering case.

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