State plea to probe cash scam

Bihar has requested New Delhi to allow the state's economic offences unit (EOU) to probe into cases of money laundering up to Rs 5 crore.

At present, the enforcement directorate (ED), which functions under the Union finance ministry, investigates economic offences. Though the state government constituted the EOU at the police headquarters to deal with such offences, the cell is not authorised to investigate cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

"The government has approached the Centre to empower the EOU to probe into the cases registered under the Act up to Rs 5 crore. Our proposal has been submitted to the Union finance ministry through proper channel," a senior police officer posted with the EOU said.

Sources said chief minister Nitish Kumar wanted the EOU to have the power to investigate cases of money laundering. He even met Union finance minister P. Chidambaram during his last visit to New Delhi and requested the latter to consider Bihar's proposal to vest powers with the EOU for taking up investigation in economic offences. The finance minister, sources said, has pledged Nitish to look into the matter at the earliest.

Director-general of police (DGP) Abhayanand confirmed that the state has submitted the proposal to the Centre but said he was unaware of the latest development. EOU sources said the Patna unit of the ED registered the first case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, in September this year and confiscated the property of a gangster Ritlal Yadav on basis of the EOU's recommendations. "We have provided documents related to huge wealth accumulated by a mining mafia to the ED," an EOU official said.

The ED has reportedly expressed its inability to take up more cases of money laundering because of manpower shortage. "We are already hard pressed because of the ongoing probe into cases lodged against former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and a few others," an EOU official said. He added that since its inception in December 2011, the EOU has registered 29 cases of economic offences and are investigating the cases. Besides, at least 10 cases of economic offences lodged with various police stations are under the control of the EOU.

"EOU officials are monitoring the investigation," the official added.

DGP Abhayanand told The Telegraph that the EOU has been directed to probe into the cases related to death of several people in Bhojpur and Gaya following consumption of spurious liquor. "The unit has been asked to find out the links of the liquor mafia responsible for causing such a huge loss to the state exchequer," he added.

He said such an initiative has been taken on the directive of the state government. Chief secretary A.K. Sinha had directed all district magistrates and superintendents of police to take stern action against liquor mafia responsible for the recent death of several people in the two districts.