ED to question Soren today; Rs 36 lakh, BMW SUV seized from Delhi house

New Delhi/Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate will question Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday in Ranchi in a money laundering case probe linked to an alleged land scam and has seized Rs 36 lakh, a BMW SUV, and some “incriminating” documents after it searched his house in the national capital, official sources said here.

A day after an ED team visited the JMM executive president’s Delhi home and agency officials said he was “untraceable”, Soren reached his official residence in the Jharkhand capital on Tuesday and chaired a meeting of his alliance MLAs, ending the over 24-hour-long suspense over his whereabouts.

The opposition BJP had claimed the chief minister was “absconding” fearing action by the ED.

Sources said the ED has informed state authorities and central security forces about the composition of its team that will move from its zonal office on Airport Road in Ranchi to Soren’s camp office at his residence on January 31 before 1 pm, the sources said.

The questioning will continue from where it ended on January 20. About 16-17 questions were put across to Soren and his statement was recorded, in a written and audio-video format, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.

The ED investigators had spent about seven hours at the CM residence that day.

In Delhi, the federal agency searched the 5/1 Shanti Niketan building of the JMM leader in the southern part of the national capital on Monday and camped there for almost 13 hours to question him about this money laundering case linked to an alleged land deal case in Jharkhand.

The sources said the ED teams seized about Rs 36 lakh in cash, a Haryana-registered BMW SUV under a name that the ED considers “benami” and some “incriminating” documents during the day-long operation.

The CM has informed the agency that he is ready to depose before them on Wednesday at his residence in the state capital around 1 pm.

A party official said in Ranchi that all the legislators of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-led ruling alliance in Jharkhand have been asked not to leave the state capital.

“I reside in your hearts,” Soren told reporters in Ranchi when asked about his “absence”.

Soren is being questioned as part of a probe into an alleged “huge racket of illegal change of ownership of land by the mafia” in Jharkhand, according to the central probe agency.

The ED has so far arrested 14 people in the case, including 2011-batch IAS officer Chhavi Ranjan who served as the director of the state’s Social Welfare Department and deputy commissioner of Ranchi.

An employee of the Jharkhand land revenue department, Bhanu Prasad Prasad, was also arrested by the agency in the case.

The ED investigation pertains to “huge amounts of proceeds of crime generated by manipulation of official records by showing dummy sellers and purchasers in the guise of forged/ bogus documents to acquire huge parcels of land having value in crores”.