New Delhi: Former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi on Monday skipped deposition before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the fourth consecutive time in a PMLA probe into the railway hotels allotment corruption case, official sources said.
It was not immediately clear if Rabri Devi, the wife of RJD chief and former railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, furnished any reason for her absence and what action would be taken by the ED.
This was the fourth consecutive time that Rabri skipped the ED summons. The agency is probing members of the Lalu Prasad family and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Rabri’s son Tejaswi Yadav, a former deputy chief minister of Bihar, was grilled for about nine hours by the ED last week in the matter. He was also summoned again for questioning on October 12 but he skipped that, official sources said.
In July, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered a criminal FIR (first information report) and conducted multiple searches on the properties of Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is also a former Bihar chief minister, and others.
The CBI FIR alleges that Lalu Prasad Yadav, as railway minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta, wife of Prem Chand Gupta, a former Union minister.
The ED had registered a criminal case against Lalu Prasad Yadav’s family members and others under the PMLA, based on the CBI FIR. It had earlier questioned Sarla Gupta among others.
The CBI has also recently recorded the statement of Tejaswi Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav in this case. The ED is investigating the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies in this case, officials had said.
Others named in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar, Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company, now known as Lara Projects, and the then IRCTC managing director P K Goel.
The CBI FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as ‘quid pro quo’.