Will refusal to cooperate with ED be ground for Hemant Soren arrest? | India News

NEW DELHI: By refusing to appear before ED despite summons, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren may have constricted his options. Under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), ED has been empowered to be a quasi-judicial authority having the same powers as vested in a civil court with regard to summons, production of documents and evidence recording underoath.
His repeated ‘refusal to cooperate’ with the agency may just be one of the grounds for his eventual arrest, a trajectory that cases against some high-profile politicians have taken. For instance the arrest of Anil Deshmukh, the former home minister of Maharashtra. Deshmukh had avoided repeated summons by the agency and even went underground for more than six months before he was taken into custody on November 2 last year.
Since his arrest, Deshmukh has approached all three tiers of the judiciary but failed to get any relief, The former Maharashtra miniser hascompleted one year in judicial custody, while the investigation is still in progress.
In Soren’s case, according to a prosecution complaint filed by the ED in a special PMLA court in Ranchi against close associates of the CM, the agency has levelled some very serious allegations of money laundering citing direct evidence of corruption and misuse of his official position in allocating mining leases and creation of ‘proceeds of crime’.
The ED had earlier arrested Soren’s political aide Pankaj Mishra and two others and seized Rs 20 crore, in cash and in bank accounts. The agency has claimed this is just a small fraction of the ‘proceeds of crime’ as the illegal mining operations were worth Rs 1,000 crore involving the accused.
The agency has recorded statements of the accused as to how they managed to bag the mining leases, who were the beneficiaries, the details of money trail cross-verified and why the CM’s cheque books and some signed cheques were recovered from their premises. It may be recalled that the ED had recovered some signed cheques and a few cheque books of CM Hemant Soren from the premises of Pankaj Mishra when it raided the residence and offices of the latter.
As regards its investigation, sources said the agency has completed a thorough money trail in the movement of ‘proceeds of crime’, recorded statements of accused and witnesses before it summoned CM Soren for questioning. Prima facie the CM has a lot of evidence against him in the money laundering case substantiating his involvement with the accused who are not just connected with him politically but have been allegedly working as fronts for illegally acquired mining operations and other business activities.

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