Brajesh Thakur, the main accused in the sexual assault case of several girls at a shelter home in Bihar's Muzaffarpur, transferred government funds meant for child welfare for his personal benefits and illegal activities, an ED probe has found.
The federal investigation agency had filed a criminal case of money laundering against Thakur, his family members and others in October last year after reports of sexual abuse of minor girls at the shelter house run by Thakur's NGO- Sewa Sankalp Vikas Samiti- came to light.
"“Huge funds have been transferred through the bank accounts of the NGO directly to bank accounts of Brajesh Thakur and his family members for their personal use.”" - ED in its probe report
"This makes it evident that Thakur has concealed, transferred and siphoned off funds provided by the government and other sources for the welfare of the children," the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said in its probe report accessed by PTI.
‘Classic Case of Money Laundering’
This is a "classic case of money laundering" where funds meant to be spent on welfare of children have been transferred and diverted through various accounts and utilised for personal use, it added.
The report said there was frequent transfer of funds from the accounts of the NGO to the bank accounts of Thakur and his family.
“This makes it evident that Thakur managed and treated the NGO as a private property and siphoned off the funds for personal benefits,” it said.
"Thakur concealed and illegally transferred funds from bank accounts of the NGO into the bank accounts of other individuals which were subsequently withdrawn in cash for handing over to Thakur without leaving any trail," the report alleged.
In a specific instance, the agency found funds from bank accounts of the NGO were "directly" used for making payment of medical college fee of Thakur's son.
"This establishes that Thakur and his family members diverted and transferred the funds of the NGO for personal use," it said.
It said the NGO was used as a “tool for money laundering” by Thakur and others.
NGO ‘Deviated From Stated Objectives’
The agency also relied on an order of the Income-tax department that cancelled the registration and exemption from tax categorisation of the NGO on August 14 last year after it found that the organisation "has totally deviated from its stated objectives and is involved in illegal activities."
The ED investigation being carried out under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) found that against the total net income of Rs 1,96,71,330 declared by Thakur and his family in their income tax returns, they have acquired properties worth Rs 5.45 crore over the years.
“Hence, it is obvious that the assets have been acquired through unaccounted illegal income, which in view of criminal activities of Thakur, are proceeds of crime,” the report charged.
Probe found that Thakur also made "false claims of huge agricultural income in an attempt to conceal the proceeds of time."
The ED found that Thakur did not disclose any agricultural income till financial year 2012-13, however from financial year 2013-14, he suddenly made huge claims of agricultural income.
The agency said it grilled Thakur and his mother Manorama Devi during probe, as they had cited agricultural income receipts in their I-T Returns, but they could not produce any evidence in support of these claims.
‘Clear Instance’ of Money Laundering
An official report by the circle officer of Sakra division, Muzaffarpur district said the estimated annual agricultural income pertaining to the land "inherited and owned" by Thakur, his family members and immediate relatives (direct descendants of his grandfather) was only Rs 63,000, the report claimed.
Thakur had filed Rs 5.5 lakh as agricultural income in the 2014-15 assessment year as compared to zero income under this head during the preceding year, the report said.
The ED also found a “clear instance” of money laundering in purchase of car by Thakur’s mother.
"The proceeds of crime in cash have been placed and concealed for creation of fixed deposits against which loans were taken and cash has been utilised for repayment of the same. These loans were utilised for purchase of the vehicle," it said.
Assets worth Rs 7.30 crore of Thakur and his family has been attached and seized by the ED early this year.
The alleged sexual exploitation of the girls was first highlighted in an audit report submitted by the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai, to the Bihar's social welfare department in April, 2018.
An FIR was lodged in May, 2018 against 11 people, including Thakur. The probe was later taken over by the CBI.
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