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Jharkhand government suspends mining secretary Pooja Singhal post her arrest


RANCHI: A day after Enforcement Directorate arrested mining secretary Pooja Singhal; Jharkhand Government suspended her on Thursday from immediate effect. The ED, after an interrogation for over 15 hours, arrested Singhal in money laundering case linked to alleged embezzlement of MGNREGA funds and other charges.

Meanwhile, after being taken in remand on Thursday, she was again taken to zonal ED headquarter in Ranchi for interrogation.

The 2000-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer was taken into ED custody under the relevant sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Sources in the State Government also informed that the process of her suspension has already been started and a decision may be taken in this regard within the next few hours.

Singhal was arrested on second day of the questioning being done by the ED officials. She was officially arrested around 4.30 PM on Wednesday, an hour after her husband Abhishek Jha arrived there after being summoned by ED officials.

According to the information provided to the court by ED earlier after arresting of CA Suman Kumar, Rs 1.43 crore more than the known sources of her income were recovered from the bank accounts of Pooja Singhal while she was Deputy Commissioner in Khunti, Palamu and Chatra. 

The ED also claimed that Singhal purchased as many as 13 insurance policies by paying a premium of Rs 80.81 lakh and closed them before completion of their tenure and got Rs 84.64 lakh against it.

The ED also informed that Singhal transferred Rs 16.57 lakh to the three bank accounts related to CA Suman Kumar.  The ED is said to have gathered sufficient primary evidence to suggest that she is in close connection with CA Sunman Kumar and had financial transactions with him.

Notably, the ED on Friday conducted raids at several locations, including that of Pooja Singhal, in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged embezzlement of over Rs 18 crore MGNREGA funds in Khunti district during 2008-2011. The raids were conducted at a total of 18 locations including Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, NCR as well as Ranchi, Khunti and Dhanbad in Jharkhand.

Singhal, as Chatra Deputy Commissioner, has been accused of paying Rs 6 crore in advance to the two NGOs – Welfare Point and Prerna Niketan for musli farming, which, actually was never done. In addition to that, while being Deputy Commissioner in Palamu, she was charged of transferring 83 acres of forest land to a private company for mining, a matter which is related to Kathautia Coal Mines.