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ED arrests IAS officer, 2 others in money laundering case


The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer Sameer Vishnoi and two other persons after it launched multi-city raids in the state early this week as part of a money laundering investigation, officials said.

Businessman Sunil Agrawal of Indramani group and Laxmikant Tiwari, uncle of “absconding” businessman Suryakant Tiwari, were also taken into custody in the morning by the federal agency from state capital Raipur, they said.

The three persons were arrested under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and will be produced before a local court, where the ED will seek their further custody.

Vishnoi, an Indian Administrative Service officer of 2009 batch, is currently working as the CEO of the Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (Chips). He was questioned by the agency at its office in Raipur on Wednesday along with a few others. 

The bureaucrat also holds additional charge of managing director of Chhattisgarh State Cooperative Marketing Federation (Markfed) and has earlier served as the director of geology and mining department and MD of Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) in the incumbent Congress government led by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. 

The CMDC undertakes scientific exploration, commercial exploitation and viable trading of minerals in the state.

The premises of Laxmikant Tiwari, an advocate by profession from state’s Mahasamund district, were also covered during the raids.

Raipur-based Agrawal has been in the coal business for over a decade and apparently has links with senior politicians.

The arrests came after the agency launched multiple raids in Chhattisgarh on October 11 in a money laundering case linked to alleged illegal levy extorted from coal and mining transporters in the state by a purported nexus of government officials, businessmen and private entities.

The agency has also sealed the residence of IAS officer and Raigarh district collector Ranu Sahu as she was not available during the raids that began on Tuesday.

Sahu is understood to have informed the agency that she was undergoing a medical procedure and has assured cooperation in the investigation.

ED sources, however, said the IAS officer of 2010 batch is yet to appear at the agency’s office in Raipur “despite clear instructions” to do so.

An ED team also conducted a survey of the mining offices in Raigarh and Korba districts along with a security team of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The agency has also seized about 4 crore cash and jewellery during the latest searches. The money laundering case stems from an Income Tax Department complaint and charge sheet filed into these instances of alleged levy extortion. 

In June-July, the tax department raided a Chhattisgarh-based group engaged in coal transportation and linked businesses, including Suryakant Twari, and a senior state government officer. 

Baghel on Wednesday had hit out at the Centre over the ED raids, saying probe agencies should not be “misused” for political mileage or to defame the state government, its officials and politicians.

Former chief minister of the state and BJP leader Raman Singh on Wednesday alleged that Baghel is an ‘ATM of Sonia Gandhi’ and that an ‘illegal levy’ of 25 per tonne is being collected for coal transportation in Chhattisgarh.

Baghel has sought an apology from Singh for the remarks.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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